Rice is the most widely distributed dietary staple food in the world. It also makes up a significant percentage of global farmland; rice is farmed on about 160 million hectares of land each year, just behind corn mostly used as animal feed at about 175 million hectares, and wheat farmed on about 220 million hectares.
Rice has the highest extraction rate of any cereal, meaning when considering the fraction of each grain utilized to as food, rice produces more energy per hectare than any other cereal. Total food protein per production hectare for rice is second only to wheat. However, when the superior quality of rice protein is considered, the yield per hectare of utilizable protein is actually higher for rice than for wheat.
I. Rice Processing
While growing, rice starts out bright green and as the plant ripens it turns golden-yellow. Rice still in the hull is called Paddy rice or rough rice. The Paddy can be further processed to yield several products, including:
Brown rice : Rice which has had the outer husk removed through the milling process but the pericarp is left intact, accounting for the brown appearance, chewy texture, and higher nutrient and fiber content compared to white rice.
Parboiled rice : Rice which has been steamed and dried before being de-husked, infusing the nutrients from the hull into the rice grain. Parboiled rice is especially popular in all parts of the world.
White rice : Rice which has had the outer husk and the inner pericarp removed along with the endosperm, and then polished.
Rice bran : Is a by-product of the rice milling process, rice bran consists of the layer between the pericarp and the inner white rice grain.
Rice can be further understood, or categorized, in various ways including: country of origin where the rice is grown, the subspecies group Japonica or Indica; cultivation conventional or hybrid; type aromatic or non-aromatic; and grade structural integrity, appearance, cooking time, and taste.
II. Rice Production & Trade
The majority of rice is grown in Asia and consumed locally, but is also grown on nearly every continent and consumed in various international cuisines.
III. Rice Types
Indica rice is long grain rice.
Japonica rice is short or medium grain rice.
Specialty rice types include: glutinous rice, aromatic rice such as Jasmine rice or Basmati rice, and Arborio rice.
IV. Rice Grades
Rice is inspected to determine a particular grain sample’s grading standard, which will determine its price on the market. Inspectors may investigate rice grain size, integrity, color, odor, chalkiness, moisture, milling yield, and other factors.
Different rice producing nations have their own standards.
Milled rice may be sold as 100% whole, meaning all the grains are considered whole. Or, rice by 5% broken, 100% broken, or somewhere in between to indicate that the respective percentage of rice grains is broken. While some broken grains are a natural part of grain production and processing, higher percentage of broken grains could be due to paddy quality from poor seeds or weather for instance, or poor milling.