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Doobo Agricultural Co., Ltd., pioneering into premium rice market with excellent taste

Doobo Agricultural, an exporter of functional GABA rice to US, Canada and Australia is expanding to the global functional rice export market. With its products exporting to the US market at six times higher price than Calrose in US, the company is emerging as a leading player in the high quality functional rice export market.

Began exporting functional GABA rice to US in 2014
GABA rice has its name from a high content of GABA in the 'Golden Tower' variety developed by the academic-industrial research team at the Yeungnam University. Doobo Agricultural entered an exporting contract with the LA Korean Market in US in 2014 for GABA rice produced from contract cultivation over approximately 230ha of land with farmers in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do. In 2015, the company also entered a contract for exporting over 100 tons per year over three years with an online telemarketing company in US. Based on this contract, the company has continuosuly increased the export volumes year over year including 180 tons in 2015.

Huh Tae-Sung, the vice CEO of Doobo Agricultural said "We are diversifying exports to pioneer sales channels for GABA rice producers in Goseong, Gyeongsangnam-do, and to this end, we are focusing on the exports by expanding to Japan, Southeast Asia, Australia and Europe", and described the characteristics of GABA rice saying "GABA rice not only tastes great but containing eight times GABA than brown rice and four times that in black rice, it effectively and functionally promote brain metabolism and improve concentration and memory." Doobo Agricultural aims to continuously expand exports through consistent overseas marketing and expand export volumes from 180 tons in 2018 to over 300 tons in 2019.

High quality premium rice containing GABA

The exporting competitive advantages of GABA rice are safety and superior taste beyond Japanese rice, which has been most preferred by US consumers. In particular, GABA is easily soluble in water, readily found in human brain as well as animal brain according to findings in 1952. For these reasons, US consumers are highly conscious about GABA rice. Also, GABA rice is gaining popularity as high quality functional rice following recent studies that evidenced the effectiveness in preventing dementia, decreasing diabetes levels and decreasing blood pressure.

As such, despite its expensive price at USD 32 per 5kg, over 6 times more expensive than Calrose rice at around USD8 per 7kg in the US market, the consumption of GABA rice is continuously showing an increasing trend. In particular, Doobo Agricultural is focusing on marketing by intensively promoting the excellence of GABA rice on TV and pioneering markets.

Import inquiries from overseas buyers continue
Doobo Agricultural could gain confidence in exports because it could maximize the use of various supports such as the governmental facility restructuring and export supports for SMEs. Huh Tae-Sung, the vice CEO said "The secrets of successful exports were revitalizing the exports based on export support policies of the central or local government, and concentrating on high quality premium functional rice market in the US market" and explained the knowhow in successful export to the US market saying "Exports are growing after the replacement of Japanese rice priced at up to USD 40 per 5kg by Korean GABA rice for the high-end consumers in US."

Also, the company focused on broadcasting the advantages of GABA rice on local TV in the US by using the marketing benefits from the local government, and the consumption basis expanded when more and more Americans began to see GABA rice as safe and healthy functional food. In a continuous trend to this, the company expects to reach an exporting goal of 300 tons in 2019 from 180 tons in 2018.

In particular, the exports are growing due to the recognition as high quality functional premium rice mainly in the LA Korean Market in the US. Recently, the exports are continuously growing after the locals who shifted from functional Japanese rice to GABA rice. In recognition of its premium product image and superior taste, import inquiries are continuing from overseas buyers in China, Japan, US and Europe.

Lee Hyun Woo  leehw@agrinet.co.kr

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