Japanese brown rice exports rise on booming Asian appetite

TOKYO, Jan. 19 — Japanese brown rice exports have increased over the years, thanks to a growing appetite in Asian markets for its flavor and the potential health benefits, data from the finance ministry in Tokyo has shown.

Promoting brown rice has become a key strategy for Japanese growers in its successful attempt to boost overall rice exports to Asia, traders say.

They now increasingly place rice milling machines in close proximity to exporting markets to make their crop fresh.

Japanese rice exports totaled 10,556 metric tons in the first 11 months of 2017, of which brown rice accounting for 40 percent. The brown rice export volume doubled, compared with the 2012 level.

The biggest increase is to Singapore. The share of brown rice in Japanese rice exports to the Lion City accounted for 69 percent in the year through November.

Brown rice to Hong Kong is also rising, accounting for 47 percent of Japanese rice exports.

Fujita Sei-Mind Co., a Hyogo prefecture-based rice retailer, said there is growing demand for fresh brown rice at Japanese restaurants in Asia.

The company carries two milling machines in exporting markets and now projects 500 metric tons of brown rice exports in 2017, double that of five years ago.

Wakka Japan of Sapporo city, another rice retailer, exports an annual 1,000 metric tons of Japanese rice to Asia.

“Thanks to the rising number of Asian tourists visiting Japan, more people know freshness directly link to taste,” said a Wakka Japan official.

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