All 30 boxes of the Kinmemai rice were sold for JPY11,304 (US$109) per kilo, excluding tax and shipping, in June and July to earn Toyo the Guinness World Records entry. The rice was purchased by Toyo from producers at JPY1,900 per kilo—roughly eight times the usual price for rice.
Only amounts reserved by a prestigious Japanese restaurant in Kyoto and quantities earmarked for export are still available out of some 2,000 kg of brown rice grains which were selected for their superior “vital energy”. Toyo says this energy is the result of its unique ageing, polishing, blending and rinse-free technologies.
The company has been developing its premium rice business since last winter in a bid to improve the global perception of Japanese rice and encourage domestic producers. It has had 18 varieties of brown rice certified as the world’s “top quality rice” at a heavyweight industry awards. Six of these were chosen for the record-breaking packages.
Toyo fears that Japan’s potential entry to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement between nations in Asia and the Americas could pave the way for more inexpensive rice to be imported into Japan, leading to declines in the country’s domestic cultivation.
To counter this, the company is taking the lead recommended by the agriculture ministry to emphasise niche products such as Kinmemai rice to expand its exports of the product.
Kinmemai, at a glance, looks like ordinary polished white rice, though it is unpolished. It is milled and processed as rinse-free rice, and keeps the white sub-aleurone layer that is generally removed during the polishing process.
Compared to polished white rice, Kinmemai is said to be superior in flavour, sweetness and nutritional value, containing roughly six times more lipopolysaccharide, a natural immune booster.
The variety is growing in demand due to advisories in countries such as Singapore that have warned against eating polished white rice, which is said to increase the risk of diabetes by excessively increasing blood-sugar levels. Toyo has also released Kinmemai dewaxed brown rice, whose water-resistant wax layer is evenly removed from the surface.