Health E-Insights: What is Toyo Rice’s competitive advantage in the marketplace?
Mr. Saika: We have the capability to develop technologies that no other rice company has. We are a rice polisher manufacturer, established in 1961, and we have constantly promoted technological development regarding rice that is ahead of the times, and have provided the world with advanced products (rice polishers) and rice created using these products. Kinmemai Rice and Kinmemai Better Brown Rice with their restored functionality (herbal medicine function) are some examples of such products, and our leading product is the World’s Best Rice.
Health E-Insights: Explain the distinction between your Kinmemai Rice product and other products?
Mr. Saika: Kinmemai Rice is a white rice made using Toyo Rice Corp.’s own unique rice polishing technology that leaves the semi-aleurone layer and Kinme (basal part of rice embryo) which is usually removed with rice bran when using conventional polishing techniques. The rice has characteristics not found in regular rice. For example, it is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals like magnesium, and contains an abundance of enzymes that break down starches when soaked in water or cooked, generating large quantities of maltose and glucose, which are called healthy sugars. With the absorption of a lot of water it increases in mass when cooked, so a small amount of rice becomes fluffy and full; thus if you were to eat the same amount as a bowl of regular rice, you can reduce the number of calories by about 10%. Also, compared to regular rice, it contains about six times the LSP, which activates your natural immunity. As a result, Kinmemai Rice has regained the original function of rice as herbal medicine, and we know this to be true from academic presentations as well as survey results of people who continuously consumed Kinmemai Rice for three months. This showed that approximately 75% of them saw improvements in their health condition, and from the numerous reviews from many consumers that are sent to us daily and report on a variety of improvements in their health.
Health E-Insights: How did your rice product enter the Guinness Book of World Records?
Mr. Saika: The world record our company attempted to achieve was for the most expensive rice, and as you can tell from the title, we were registered as selling rice with the highest price per kilogram. On our own e-commerce store www.toyorice.jp), we began selling six 140-gram (one serving) bags of the World’s Best Rice for 18,000 yen (including consumption tax and delivery fee) and we received certification for the price of 11,304 yen ($109 USD) per kilogram. However, to get this certification, it was necessary to have a regular consumer with no interest in our company purchase the rice and prove that it was delivered to them. There were other rules and requirements that were difficult to clear, so it was quite an ordeal. And what surprised me the most was that even though it is the World’s Most Expensive Rice, the 30 boxes that we had initially prepared, as well as the 300 boxes scheduled to be sold overseas that we hurriedly shifted to domestic sales, were all sold out. I am very pleased that the World’s Best Rice was acknowledged by so many people regardless of the extremely high price tag.
Health E-Insights: Do you plan to distribute Kinmemai Rice nationwide in the U.S.?
Mr. Saika: The rice is already distributed at Japanese supermarkets in the surrounding areas of New York, and the West Coast, especially in Los Angeles. Most of our loyal customers are non-Japanese people who are fans of Japanese cuisine, rather than Japanese people living in the area. I doubt that there is another rice anywhere in the world that is as delicious and functional as Kinmemai Rice, and it is sure to help maintain the health of the American people, so I would like to continue to expand the distribution throughout the U.S.
Health E-Insights: What are the most important decisions you make as a leader of your organization?
Mr. Saika: Originally it was the decision to create our company business policy when I became president in 1985. There was a lot to consider and it was difficult to shape the direction of our company. Today it’s to create and expand our technology and make an advanced contribution to society. It’s what we call our major directive for our corporate activities. Kinmemai Rice was born as part of this philosophy and it is the company’s goal to contribute to human health by restoring the ancient powers of rice through the creation of rice technology.
Health E-Insights: What is your approach to healthy eating?
Mr. Saika: Rice is a staple food for Japanese people, and from ancient times it has been treasured as herbal medicine. It was truly a medicine you eat that helped to promote people’s health. Today, due to the emphasis on appearance, the degree of rice polishing has increased. Through the technology our company has developed, we have been able to restore the functions of rice as herbal medicine. Toyo believes the only way to prevent modern ailments such as cancer, and lifestyle illnesses such as diabetes, is to change our diet, and we are confident that eating herbal medicine in our daily diet through Kinmemai Rice and Kinmemai Better Brown Rice is the way to save humankind. And this method is not particularly expensive. It is a method that would have a significant effect on reducing medical costs that in Japan has climbed to 40 trillion yen annually.
Health E-Insights: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Mr. Saika: We contributed significantly to improving food culture in Japan by continuously refining the quality of rice. One example is the stone-free rice machine we developed in 1961 to remove small stones that would get mixed in with the rice. In 1989, we discovered the true source of the flavor of rice and developed a device to measure it. This device is now used at many agricultural testing centers in the development of new strains of rice created in Japan and has led to the creation of many famous rice brands. Two years later we introduced the world’s first wash-free rice that could be cooked without washing, then launched Kinmemai Rice in 2006 and Kinmemai Better Brown Rice in 2015, developing and distributing rice with functions that did not previously exist.
Health E-Insights: Do you like to cook?
Mr. Saika: I love polishing rice and am very good at it, but I’m not a cook. I do love to eat and I always eat Kinmemai daily with all three meals.
Sheldon Baker is CEO of the Baker Dillon Group LLC and has created numerous nutraceutical marketing communications and public relations campaigns for many well-known companies and brands. For Health E-Insights interview consideration and campaign development, contact him at SBaker@BakerDillon.com.