Millennium Post

Healthy is tasty

Rice Bran oil is fast emerging as a favourite cooking oil of health-conscious people across the world. While China produces maximum rice bran, India is the largest producer of rice bran oil in the world. Globally, about 15  lakh tons of Rice Bran Oil is produced out of which India produces about 9.5 lakh tonnes per annum for human consumption as cooking oil, blended oil and vanaspati. A two-day Global Rice Bran Oil Conference 2015 in Mumbai – focusing on “Position, Promotion and Prospects of Rice Bran Oil as a Health Oil in the World” – witnessed industry and health experts from China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and India discussed possible innovations in rice bran oil and its position, promotion and prospects as a healthy oil in the world.  

Noting the potential of importing unrefined rice bran oil from Vietnam (where rice bran is used as fodder) and India exporting value-added refined oil globally, Dr V Prakash, CSIR and Vice President, International Union of Nutritional Sciences, said the growth of the Indian vegetable oil industry by 2020 is expected to reach Rs 2,00,000 crores – with all the infrastructure in place to produce about 250 lakh tonnes of vegetable oil – and a large portion of it would not be sold as raw oil to the public but converted into other products. To handle this demand with its infrastructure and modernisation trajectory to enable India become a leader in the next five years, the country needs to resource other important raw materials of which rice bran is one. 

“Rice Bran oil is obtained from the brown layer of rice, which constitutes about five per cent of the paddy and is enriched in oil to the extent of 10-25 per cent. Research institutes in India and abroad have found Rice Bran Oil as heart-friendly oil with unique properties beneficial for maintaining good health. Rice Bran Oil is the only cooking medium which has an ideal SFA/MUFA/PUFA ratio and EFA ratio which is closer to the recommended levels of WHO. A number of scientific studies have confirmed that using Rice Bran significantly reduces the bad cholesterol without adversely affecting the good cholesterol due to presence of a unique component in this oil known as ‘Oryzanol’, which is not found in any other vegetable oil,” Prakash said.

Describing The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) as the premier Association of Vegetable Oil Industry and Trade in India since 1963 with over 850 companies as members across India, Pravin Lunkad, President, (SEA) said the SEA, besides organising national seminars and regional workshops, took a six-member delegation to Japan in 2001 to study the latest technology in RBO processing. “India produces the best quality of Rice Bran Oil and has emerged as the largest producer of this oil in the world. We have more than 150 solvent extraction units in India, producing Rice Bran Oil, and the total production is 9,50,000 tonnes per annum. However, we need to keep up our efforts in this area as the potential in India is about 1.6 million tonnes per annum,” he said, adding “the government of India has permitted Export of Rice Bran Oil in bulk and this will now open a new avenue for us to explore the world market.” 

Dr A R Sharma, President, International Association of Rice Bran Oil (IARBO), said IARBO was formed by Dr Xubeing Xu, Wilmar Global R&D Centre and Asst Prof. Dr Riantong Singanusong, Naresuan University, Thailand, while also drawing in India, China, Thailand, Japan & Vietnam – the major rice producing countries in Asia – to encourage technological innovations in the field of processing of Rice Bran Oil and other value added products from Rice Bran, to standardise specifications of Rice Bran Oil with a view to promote international trade by improving communication between the Rice Bran Oil producers, academic researchers and local governments, to create awareness about the health benefits of this wonderful oil which is currently catching the eye of the consumers worldwide. To achieve these objectives, IARBO had decided to organise International Conferences on Rice Bran Oil in different countries and the first International Conference was organised in Wuhan, China in May 2014. 

He said, “The current potential of Rice Bran Oil in the world is 3.5 million tons, against which the current production is only about 1.5 million tons. While the major producers are India (9,50,000 T), China (2,00,000 T), Japan (80,000 T) and Thailand (50,000 T), India represents nearly 2/3rd of the world production and is No. 1 in the world.”

Describing Rice Bran as an oily layer between the paddy husk and white rice, Dr B V Mehta, executive director, SEA, said, “India’s paddy production had increased by 125 million tonnes MnT to 159 MnT in 10 years with an average RBO recovery from rice bran being 17 per cent to 18 per cent and current potential of RBO being about 1.55 MnT. India is currently processing about 5.0 MnT of rice bran and producing about 9,50,000 tonnes of RBO, besides the untapped potential for 0.60 Mnt RBO. Global RBO production witnessed China producing 2,00,000 tonnes, Japan (80,000 tonnes), Thailand (50,000 tonnes) and others (2,20,000 tonnes) – which meant a global total of 15,00,000 tonnes, as against world potential of 3.5 million tonnes.

Until 1995, RBO produced in India was mainly used in manufacturing soap and product mix of vanaspati. Since 1998, the SEA with TMOP and CSIR jointly campaigned to encourage production and use of RBO as a healthy cooking medium. Post-2000 witnessed RBO being used for edible purposes in vanaspati and blended oil, while 2001 saw the Indian government sponsoring R&D into developing cost-effective pre-treatment technologies for physical refining of rice bran oil. The government also provided grant-in-aid assistance to set up physical refining units based upon newly-developed technologies, and over 40 such units came up throughout India. 

India, among the top importerS of edible oil in the world
India is the top importer of edible oil with imports up by 10 per cent to 7.8 million tonnes from 7.1 million tonnes. India’s consumption of edible oil rose to 17.5 mmt in 2012-2013 from 11.6 mmt in 2003-2004, according to SEA. North India (mustard, rape seed oil) is the largest market, followed by South (Groundnut, coconut), West (groundnut) and East (Mustard, rape) zones.  Disposable income among the growing middle class had led to change in lifestyle, increasing consumption of edible oils. Four western India states – Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh – consume one-third of total edible oil in the country. Rice Bran Oil sales in India increased by 59 per cent in 2013-2014, more than any other oil category in the country. A team of doctors noted that in India cooking oil forms an integral part of every household and right choice of edible oil is needed for maintaining a healthy life. In most of the western and southern states, there is a strong preference for groundnut oil, whereas in the north and east mustard oil is preferred. 

All about oil
“As opposed to the low price appeal, at the opposite end, we have the healthy oil segment. The Health position was first claimed by Saffola with its Khardi oil. This heart healthy position has been occupied unchallenged by the brand since nearly three decades.  Around a decade ago, olive oil made a serious competitive bid in the segment. A flood of articles, opinions and research helped establish olive oil as the “healthiest” oil for consumers.  This perception enabled importers to command huge premiums over the import price. Today, one can find a slew of brands, most relatively unknown internationally, milking the premium oil segment.”

“However, for RBO to establish itself in the consumer mind, three strategic options are available: a) Price Option:  For decades, RBO was considered unedible and was a major ingredient for the soap manufacturing industry. Today, RBO is one of the cheapest edible oils available in India and, as a commodity sold in bulk, it fetches around Rs 63/- per kg – very close to imported Palm Oil that sells at around Rs. 56/- per kg.  So the price option is very much available to RBO manufacturers.  

Health Option: Recent research globally recognised the presence of “oryzanol” in RBO. Oryzanol is one of few natural ingredients that reduces “bad cholesterol” in human like a natural “statin” but without the damaging effects of chemical statins.  

Low Cost Health Option: With the Indian consumer being extremely price conscious, it would place RBO brands as the least-costly health oils available on the shelf.  

Hansel D Souza, Brand Consultant, Aquila-Centre for Corporate Skills, highlighted RBO Magic. “India has displayed an insatiable appetite for cooking oils in recent years and there has been a 70 per cent rise in consumption of edible oils in the country over the last decade. Today, India produces merely 50 per cent of its edible oil requirement with balance 50 per cent being imported.  While disposable incomes rise alongside demand for edible oil, the market however is growing in different directions. 

The main segments are the “Loose Oil” segment and the “Branded Oil” segment. Indian consumers buy almost 48 per cent of their edible oil as “Loose Oil”, which is sold out of bulk packs like tins or barrels. The market for “Branded Oil” constitutes the balance 52 per cent which consists of packaged edible oil – sealed, labelled and branded for the shelf. The other way of segmenting the market is along price points. The low price segment would prefer oils like palm oil which sells solely on the price platform.  Interestingly, palm oil commands 46 per cent of the market share, with soyabean oil second at 16 per cent.  Rice Bran Oil has gained handsomely over the past few years and today commands 5.2 per cent of the market, with sales in India increased by 59 per cent in 2013-2014”
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