Thai jasmine rice, or khao hom mali, grown in Thung Kula Rong Hai was selected as one of the top innovation products at the 2014 SIAL expo in Paris, not just for its exotic taste, but also because it is a product that is respected and consumed by the loca
The rice is produced and exported by Surin-based JP Rice International, which was also given a SIAL award for designing a package that verifies the location of the farmers.
“Each package contains a special code that allows you to locate the farm,” Charlie Setpattanachai, marketing manager of the JP Rice, explained.
Several different types of rice and rice products were submitted by Thai producers as well as manufacturers from other Asean countries, including Vietnam, but JP Rice, sold under the Golden Royal Bowl brand, was special.
“Rice is our traditional, cultural product. It’s not ordinary,” Charlie said. “The key behind us being selected as an innovative product is that our rice has a story to tell.”
Thung Kula Rong Hai has a long history. It is a huge dry field in the Northeast covering five provinces – Surin, Maha Sarakham, Buri Ram, Si Sa Ket and Roi Et.
The name literally translates to “fields of the crying Kula”. A tale says that the Kula – an ethnic minority – travelled through this plateau, and despite their endurance and toughness, they ended up crying because the land gave them nothing. However, they later discovered that this dry and not very fertile field was perfect for jasmine rice, which had a special smell.
JP Rice only buys jasmine rice from farmers in Thung Kula Rong Hai and its mill in Surin processes and packs the rice for export to Europe, Hong Kong, Australia and Africa. The European market alone consumes some 30,000 tonnes of jasmine rice under the Golden Royal Bowl brand annually, Charlie said.
“Our customers in Europe are mostly Asian restaurants, where they know how to cook and serve Thai rice,” he said.