Shoichi Ito and Yukihiro Ishikawa Tottori University, Japan
FAO International Rice Year, 2004 Symposium Rome, Italy February 12, 2004

I. Introduction

Rice consumption in Japan has been decreasing since the mid 1960's. During recent years, it has been decreasing by 1% a year. Accordingly, the domestic rice production, which is the heart of agriculture in Japan, has also been decreasing. The same trend is observed in many Asian countries, such as Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and even in China. In China, per capita rice consumption has been steadily decreasing since the early 1990's. To stop declining rice consumption is a critical issue. To develop some value-added rice products is important to encourage rice consumption as a whole. Germinated brown rice (GBR) and rice bread (RB) are two examples that attract consumers.
GBR and RB currently are becoming increasingly popular setting up fair sized industries in Japan during the last several years. Large companies have been producing rice cookers designed for GBR and RB, marketing channels for them are being developed, more products based on GBR and RB are on the road, and more and more retail shops are selling GBR and RB. Even school lunch is involved nationwide. The GBR and RB can grow to be some of the keys for recovering the popularity for rice in Japan and other Asian countries.

II. Germinated Brown Rice (GBR)

@Background of GBR
Nutrition of sprouted grains has been studied since decades ago. Finney (1978) showed enhancement of wheat and soybean seeds if they were sprouted. Tkachuk (1979) also found similar situation in wheat. Saikusa, Horino and Mori (1994) found that ƒÁ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) increased dramatically if brown rice is soaked in 40 degrees in Celsius water for 8 hours to 24 hours. Okada et al. (2000) reported that intake of GABA for 8 consecutive weeks suppressed blood pressure and improved sleeplessness, and autonomic disorder observed during the menopausal or presenile period. More recently, Jeon et al. (2003) found that GBR may be effective for suppressing liver damage. In Japan, people in the ancient era may have been eating brown rice soaked (Kayahara, 2003).
GBR was established for marketing in Japan in 1995. GBR products were developed and marketed first by Domer Co. (Ueda City, Nagano Pref.) and the city government, Mino-cho of Kagawa Pref., was one of the earliest organizations engaged in the production of GBR. It is now produced by several private companies including agricultural cooperatives. During the last decade, 49 items related to GBR have been patented. The method to make GBR is quite simple. Soak the brown rice for one night or two depending on temperature and they are sprouted. This process make the internal minerals change, and the brown rice becomes more nutritious, easier to chew and tastier.

@Contribution of GBR to Health
Eating brown rice became popular in Japan back in the 1970's. That was because of rich fiber and other nutrients contained in the brown rice. However, the popularity did not last long due to the fact that brown rice had to be cooked in the pressure cooker and was still hard to chew and less tasty. GBR overcame the problem. It can be cooked in an ordinary rice cooker and is soft enough to chew even for children. Further, an added benefit is the fact that GBR is much more nutritious.
During the process of being sprouted, nutrients in the brown rice change drastically. Various types of analyses on Germinated brown rice have been conducted in Japan. Those major nutrients that increase in content in the GBR are ƒÁ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), dietary fiber, inositols, ferulic acid, phytic acid, tocotrienols, magnesium, potassium, zinc, ƒÁ-oryzanol, and prolylendopeptidase inhibitor (Kayahara and Tukahara, 2000). Kayahara and Tsukahara indicate that volume of nutrients contained in GBR relative to milled rice are 10 times for GABA, nearly 4 times for dietary fiber, vitamin E, niacine and lysine, and about 3 times for vitamin B1 and B6, and Magnesium (Fig. 1). Accordingly, they conclude that continuous intake of GBR is good for accelerating metabolism of brain, preventing headache, relieving constipation, preventing cancer of colon, regulating blood sugar level, preventing heart disease, lowering blood pressure as well as preventing Alzheimer's disease (Table 1).
Table 2 shows the results of analyses on nutrients contained in GBR relative to the situation of brown rice before germination. In these analyses, we selected not only Japanese rice but also California medium grains (Calrose and M401 varieties) and Vietnamese long grains (ordinary grains and jasmine rice). Through many chemical analyses, it was indicated that level of moisture and length of period after harvest influence whether the brown rice can be sprouted or not. These two factors appear to influence the magnitude of change in nutrients.
Therefore, those two items are shown in the table as well. The results of the analyses indicate that there is a significant change in profiles of free amino acids for all brown rice as they get sprouted. GABA increased from 3.6 to 6.1 for the Vietnamese ordinary long grain despite the extremely low germination rate. GABA in Calrose increased more than two times from 4.9 to 10.9 and for M401 more than three times from 2.7 to 9.8 with germination rates of 90% and 56%, respectively. For the Japanese Koshihikari and Hitomebore varieties, GABA increased from 7.6 to 16.6 and from 10.5 to 13.6, respectively, with high germination rates.

@Preparation and Marketing of GBR
The basic procedure to prepare GBR is; first select good brown rice to germinate; second, soak it for some 20 hours in warm water at around 30 to 40 degrees in Celsius or longer with cooler temperature; changing water a few times depending on smell being developed during the soaking; wash it lightly before cooking. GBR producing companies pack it into two types; dry and wet. Moisture level of dry and wet GBR are generally at 15% and 30%, respectively. The marketing procedures are conducted mainly through three routes: Catalogue, internet and retail shopping. Market prices of the GBR is at the range of 1,000 yen (appr. US$9.00) to 800 yen (US$7.00) per 1kg comparing the prices for the ordinary milled rice ranging from about 300 yen to 600 yen depending upon quality. Although GBR can be easily prepared at home, they are priced extraordinarily high for sale. The GBR was originally started in 1995. Nowadays, GBR products are being sold as much as 15,000 MT in Japan, and the marketed value as much as approximately 15 billion yen. Total rice consumption in Japan is currently about 9 million MT in brown rice basis. The industry has targeted total sales of GBR in Japan at 90,000 MT, a 1% of the total rice consumption, in the near future. GBR is also served at restaurants. An oriental atmosphere restaurant in Kyoto has served home-made GBR rice since 5 years ago. The owner insists that GBR attracts young women. GBR is often quoted in periodicals featuring health and fashion. Both the aged for mainly health and young mainly for fashion and health appear to appreciate the GBR. GBR is already applied to many products such as GBR rice-balls, GBR soup, GBR bread, GBR doughnuts, GBR cookies, GBR rice burger, etc. GBR is mixed with other materials in those products. GBR can be applied to many dishes in the world. Italian risotto, Spanish paella, Brazilian fejoada, and Indian curry & rice, etc may be suitable for using GBR. It can be used even for sushi. Among all those possibilities, making GBR at home is the best, cheapest and most nutritious. Because GBR is eaten as brown rice, there is no 10% loss which usually occurs during the milling process from brown rice. GBR's high nutrition content is quite critical when food supply is short. GBR can be applied to indica rice. Indica rice often contains some bitter tasting material on the outer layer of the grains. Accordingly, it is suggested to soak it in the refrigerator for an extra day or two before cooking (Horino, 2004). Horino hints that the parboiled rice process may be applied for GBR rather easily for the indica rice. Before steaming the rough rice, the rice can be sprouted first.

III. Rice Bread (RB)

@Growing business
RB became possible to make by the creation of fine rice flour developed by the Niigata Food Products Research Institute (Niigata-ken Shokuhin Bunseki Senta). Rice bread is getting more popular in Japan. In Tottori City, some 15,000 kids have been enjoying rice bread twice a month. According to the questionnaire the City office surveyed as of 2002, 50% of the kids feel that rice bread is enjoyable, 23% neutral, and 27% moderately dislike it. After a year of eating rice bread regularly, about 80% of the kids show their fondness toward rice bread.
RB is generally made with 80% rice flour and 20% gluten. In Japan, rice is relatively much more expensive than wheat. For rice bread, therefore, low quality rice or old rice, which is substantially cheaper than ordinary new rice, is being used. Rice that is 5 to six years old can be used for rice bread and the quality of the bread is not necessarily impaired much, according to the bakeries.
More varieties of rice bread are being developed; plain rice bread, raisin rice bread, nut rice bread, rice bread rolls, croissant rice bread, and many other kinds. They have established gluten-free rice bread using only rice flour mainly. This type of rice bread is suitable for those who are allergic to gluten.
Rice bread is being sold commercially, and the number of bakeries selling rice bread is increasing nowadays. Prices of RB at bakeries are quite expensive relative to wheat rice. In a Tottori bakery shop, one loaf of rice bread is sold for 450 yen (about US$4.00) and wheat bread for 150 yen (about US$1.40). Rice bread is about 3 times as expensive as wheat rice. In this bakery, which started selling rice bread in November 2002, rice bread has now grown to account for 20% of its total sale value.
There are no official statistics to show how much of rice bread is being consumed in Japan. In 2001, one milling company used as much as 1,100 MT of rice for bread flour.

@Costs of Rice Bread
Costs of rice bread in Japan is relatively much more expensive than wheat. Tables 3 and 4 show cost items to produce rice bread flour in Japanese yen and the U.S. dollars, respectively, converting yen into dollar using exchange rate of 105 yen a dollar. One kilogram of brown rice costs 120 yen or US$1.14, which is the price for low quality rice and substantially cheaper than the costs for table rice at around $4.00/kg.
Charge for milling for milled rice is $0.1/kg. A loss of 15% occurs when low quality rice is milled with a milling rate at 85%. Therefore, accumulated price for 1kg of milled rice turns out to be $1.46. Then, a charge for flouring is $0.86/kg with milling rate at 80%. Thus, accumulated costs so far is $2.89/kg. Finally, rice flour must be added with wheat gluten to become sticky. This is $3.81/kg in Japan. If rice flour 80% and gluten 20% are mixed, the cost for the mix becomes $3.08. This compares with wheat flour at $0.8 in Japan. Rice bread flour is nearly 4 times more expensive over wheat flour. Rice bread at the school lunch in Tottori is being subsidized by the city government just for the additional portion of the cost over wheat bread. The national Japanese government provides subsidies to schools if they use old rice for bread. Rice bread is provided at schools in 11 prefectures out of 47 in Japan as of 2003 replacing wheat bread. The number may be increasing in 2004. What would be the cost different between rice bread flour and wheat flour in the world market? Table 5 indicates an estimate based on world prices. Price of milled rice is from Thai 100%B market price. Adding charge for flouring at $0.1/kg and gluten at $2.7/kg, costs of rice bread flour become $0.84, which compares with $0.25/kg at the wholesale market (Wheat Outlook Yearbook, 2003). Rice bread flour still appears to be almost 3 times more expensive than its counterpart of wheat.

IV. Conclusion

Germinated brown rice (GBR) and rice bread (RB) are two examples of recent rice products that have been becoming quite popular in Japan. GBR holds much more nutrition over milled rice or ordinary brown rice. Because it can be prepared at home without much effort, GBR could be well used as a tool to improve food security in food shortage regions. For developed countries, GBR can be a dietary food for improvement of health.
Despite of the high prices of GBR marketed in Japan, increase in consumption appears to be prominent. Currently, GBR is being produced using japonica rice. However, indica rice may be well suited as well. Because GBR is easily made at home once good brown rice is obtained, it's popularity should spread throughout the world.
Rice bread came out just a few years ago. It is now developed into several type of bread and they are quite attractive to the consumers in Japan despite the fact that they are much more expensive than wheat bread. In the world market, the costs of rice bread is still much greater than wheat; however, it has the potential to grow in many countries in the future. Nowadays, gluten-free rice bread (100% rice) has been developed. This type of bread is good for those who are allergic to gluten. Rice bread is now used for school lunch in many areas in Japan. This way, kids can develop taste for rice bread and this may lead them to appreciate rice for life.
GBR and RB may hold great potential in many ways. First, the very Asian peoples may re-recognize the significance of rice as a healthy food. Second, eating as GBR instead of milled rice, it is possible to save 10% in volume. Third, people can enjoy new types of rice products such as RB. Finally, those new ways of consuming rice may attract those people who are traditionally non-rice eaters.

Acknowledgment: Our analyses on nutrition of GBR for rices from California and Vietnam were made possible due to help from Kitoku-Shinryou Co. (Tokyo) and the Kitoku America, Inc. (Davis, California). The authors would like to express their appreciation. Appreciation of the authors' is also extended to Mr. Alias Bin Abdullah for his editorial assistance.


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Experimental procedure:
Three grams of brown rice was scaled in a 50ml centrifuging tube (Corning) and added with 20 ml of distilled water.
After germination at 30Ž for 20 hours, water was discarded and 6 ml of 5% TCA( trichloroacetic acid : containing ornithine ( 5ƒÊmol/ml ) as a standard substance ) was added to sprouted rice, which was then homogenized and centrifuged.
The resulting supernatant was poured into a test tube, and its pH was adjusted to 2.2 with sodium hydroxide.
A mixture of 400ƒÊl of the pH adjusted supernatant and 1.2 ml of citrate buffer solution ( pH 2.2 ) was passed through a filter ( 4.5 ƒÊm ) and 40 ƒÊl of the filtrate was analyzed on an amino acid analyzer.
*This includes other types of free amino acids.





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