Japanese rice polisher, wholesaler lifting exports


Iris Ohyama is expanding rice exports as part of an effort to boost sales in its food business to 15 billion yen ($147 million) in 2016, a 50% jump from 2015.

The Japanese company began exporting rice last year, shipping 60 tons to Malaysia for sale in department stores and other outlets. It now plans to ship more than 100 tons of rice annually to Malaysia and will also begin test sales in Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan, shipping several hundred kilograms there to gauge consumer interest. Procurement of Japanese-grown rice is rising in these areas accompanying a boom in Japanese cuisine.

At low temperatures, Iris Ohyama polishes rice grown in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region and sells it in bags impermeable to oxygen, with the intent of supporting farmers victimized by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In these bags, the rice retains its quality even after prolonged storage, an advantage the company aims to use in exporting it.

To enhance confidence in product quality, the company has acquired FSSC 22000 certification for food safety management at its rice-polishing plants. Rice accounts for a large portion of the company's food business.

The Sendai-based company's main products are plastic storage containers and pet accessories, but it intends to cultivate the rice business into a new earnings source.


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