Japan Foodservice Industry Sold on Calrose

Feb 08, 2017
U.S. rice hops aboard the sushi conveyor belt
TOKYO, JAPAN – Over the past half year, the Japanese foodservice industry has rediscovered U.S. Calrose rice and initiated steps to evaluate its use in traditional Japanese cuisine.  Last fall a sample of Calrose as vinegar-seasoned rice for sushi was tested and found to be readily acceptable for use in sushi sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and in rotating sushi bars, called Kaitenzushi.  

In another test last month, the Japan Cooked Rice Association, an organization consisting of companies supplying cooked rice for ready-made meals and foodservice, tested Calrose at their own initiative.  USA Rice facilitated the supply of rice for the latest test from the 2016 crop where Calrose was compared to Haenuki, the Japanese origin rice most often used for sushi in foodservice.   The Association determined that Calrose was on par with the Japanese variety favored in foodservice and also comparable to local varieties Koshihikari (Ibaraki Prefecture) and Kirara 397 (Hokkaido) often used in “B branded,” or lower priced, rice favored by the foodservice industry and ready-made meal manufacturers.
Nikkei Business Online reported recently on both tests, noting that a blanket conclusion that Japanese rice is superior in all categories of use including in sushi is not supported by the results.
“Currently Calrose is very competitive with local rice as those prices have risen lately while Calrose prices have declined,” said USA Rice Vice President International Hugh Maginnis.  “Rice importers and the foodservice sector are optimistic that this trend bodes well for imports of Calrose this year under the Simultaneous Buy-Sell, or SBS, import regime.  USA Rice plans to capitalize on the favorable test results and increased competitiveness of Calrose by engaging even more with the foodservice industry and promoting the quality and versatility of U.S. Calrose rice borne out by these test results.”