Shinmei Co. Ltd is investing more than $10m in a rice processing facility in California to produce a gluten-free ‘Rice Bun’, an alternative to the burger bun, in the US.
The move will create 100 jobs as part of its Phase 1 transition and this will increase by another 500 employees.
"We will bring Japanese rice processing technology to California," said Mitsuzo Fujio, president of Shinmei U.S.A., in a statement.
Opening in June 2014
The 28,000-square-foot facility at Southport Business Park, in West Sacramento, is expected to open in June 2014.
The Rice Bun, which is sold across Australia, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia, will source the bun's primary raw material rice locally from Sacramento region farmers.
"Our goal is to build relationships with the agricultural sector by collaborating with local rice farmers, integrating our Rice Bun product into the US market, and streamlining our entire process from the beginning to the end,” added Fujio.
“We hope through our Rice Bun product, American people can enjoy rice, Japan's most treasured commodity, as a key part of their everyday meals."
Demand for gluten-free
The debut of the Rice Bun in the US retail and food service is due to a growing trend among consumers towards a gluten-free diet.
The Rice Bun is GMO-free, microwavable and can be made from brown or white rice, organic or non-organic, with multiple flavors.
West Sacramento is home to several food firms including Raley's Family of Fine Stores, Nor-Cal Beverage and Tony's Fine Foods.
This year, Japan's Nippon Shokken, Norway's Tomra Sorting Solutions and Germany's Bayer CropScience also moved to the area.
Shinmei Co. Ltd which works in the wholesale and purchase of rice and grains, operates rice mills and a processing and distribution network in Kanto. The company was founded in 1950 and is based in Kobe, Japan.