Every choice Sun Valley Rice makes to bring a kernel of rice from the paddy to a buttery yellowtail roll or clean sip of sake meets exacting scrutiny. With no scarcity of rice choices on the shelf for any imaginable preparation, the bar for remarkable rice is set high. Driving the bar higher for Sun Valley Rice means embracing industry-leading technology. The fifth-generation family farm benefits greatly from know-how rooted in their enterprising past, but make no mistake, their eyes are always on the horizon looking for the next solution that will promise greater sustainability and unparalleled quality. Sun Valley Rice goes even further in their pursuit of innovation, keeping processes under their own roof to control quality and stay agile in making improvements.
In 1999, Sun Valley Rice traveled from California to Japan to get their eyes on new milling technology that promised to enhance the taste and cooking efficiency of rice. They brought home KAPIKA dry polishing technology, being the first mill to adopt the “musen mai,” approach that reduces the bran to the degree where the washing of the rice is not necessary. Simply put, it was a better process than what ordinary milling machines to date provided. Their level of detail, aimed at global quality standards, doesn’t go unnoticed. It helped Sun Valley Rice get their product into Costco Japan stores in 2019. Since working with Japan, Sun Valley Rice has shipped thousands of tons for retail and foodservice markets. Being the first U.S. mill to sell packaged rice in Costco Japan was a massive milestone and testament to their dedication, strong partnership, and desire to prove their quality on a global scale.
To get to the root of Sun Valley Rice’s quality, you have to travel to the heart of their operations – their facility. Their mill is the most modern rice mill in California. A consultant from Japan advised on the mill’s organization, as Sun Valley Rice recognizes that Japan has milling technology perfected. The mill is fully automated and all on a single story. That means no pests, no people traveling up and down many levels, just easy access to equipment. During the milling process, fine pressure is applied to make certain there are no micro-fissures that would ruin the texture. Color sorters with optical sensors look for foreign materials, damaged, discolored, and immature kernels, and remove them from the whole kernels of rice during processing. Their warehouse, Foothill, is powered by renewable energy and boasts a double-pass Shanzer drying system for high-volume, low-heat drying. The system slashes turn-around time for delivering premium paddy rice, making Foothill the preferred supplier to mills serving high-end markets.
The final quality of freshly harvested grain depends on every single step taken after harvest. Rice demands timely processing and careful handling. Sun Valley Rice goes beyond, keeping all rice drying and storage within 100 miles of their mill to delicately control these processes. This close proximity has the potential to increase harvest efficiency, reduce delays, and contribute to market/delivery time flexibility.
Even innovative rice products, like sprouted or sake rice, are processed at Sun Valley Rice’s facility to make sure standards are met. Sprouting at Sun Valley Rice is a closed-loop pneumatic process where rice is received in a controlled facility, moisture-conditioned by high humidity air, and internal temperature is set to a proprietary temperature for several hours all to optimize taste, texture, nutritional bioavailability, and safety. The process is no-soak and follows a safe sprouting protocol, making Sun Valley Rice the most advanced when compared with other sprouting facilities in the U.S. Their Japanese sake-milling equipment is also state-of-the-art, with a large suction system to ensure there’s no powder on the rice before brewing. Sun Valley Rice is on a mission to do rice right, as evidenced by the many firsts they celebrate for technology and innovation. Sun Valley Rice indexes on quality with every stop their rice makes from the field to the consumer, and they will not hesitate to bring in great minds or great tech to achieve it.