An increase in the demand for healthy alternative hybrid rice grains in Cebu has prompted a local distributor to expand her distribution base to other areas in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Shanna Louise Te Lopez of Happy Rice Company said that last year, the company experienced a 500-percent growth especially in the the hybrid varieties like Jasponica, Jasponica Brown Rice and Miponica.
The growth made them see the potential of the rice variants in areas outside Cebu.
?Jasponica is a hybrid variety of Jasmine rice and Japonica which is Japanese rice while Miponica is a hybrid variety of Milagrosa and Japonica. Seeing the huge growth potential of the rice variants, we plan to be more aggressive in marketing them not only in Cebu but also outside,? Lopez said.
The rice varieties are under the Doña Maria brand produced by SL Agritech Corp. and is distributed by Happy Rice Co.
?For the last four years, we have been exclusively distributing Doña Maria brand rice in Cebu and we think it's time to go outside and expand,? Lopez said.
They plan to start in Bohol, Tacloban City in Leyte and Bacolod City in Negros Occidental in the Visayas and gradually expand to Mindanao in the next two years.
Cebu still offers a lot of growth potential and is considered a major market not only by them but by other rice distributors as well. This is because of the presence of many restaurants and the seemingly active growth in the local culinary industry, said Lopez.
?Restaurants here are now looking at alternative rice varieties which they can buy locally at a more affordable price and not become soley dependent on imported rice and we have just the right product for them.?
Lopez said Jasponica Brown Rice is most preferred because it tastes sweet and is sticky like the Japanese rice.
Lopez said that two years ago, they ordered 40 metric tons of hybrid rice every month for Cebu from Laguna.
This year, the firm expects a 500-percent growth in the orders.
The Doña Maria rice variants are sold at P60 to P80 per kilo in all the local supermarkets in Cebu which is lower compared to imported rice variants according to Lopez.
Hybrid rice are different from genetically modified rice.
Lopez said the Department of Agriculture was considering hybrid rice as a solution to the local rice supply problems in the country.
Lopez said hybrid rice was also being perceived by customers as a safer rice.
?Producing hybrid rice is just putting together the good qualities of each rice variety used. Unlike GMOs that you really alter some genetic properties which people still can't accept at this time,? Lopez said.