With rice bran oil still unfamiliar to Vietnamese, the country should inform local consumers of its health benefits and potential opportunities for the domestic rice-growing sector, experts said at an international conference on Thursday.
Rice bran oil is produced by extracting oil from the hard brown outer layer of rice outside the chaff.
Vietnam has the potential to develop this healthy oil, specialists said at the fifth International Conference on Rice Bran Oil (ICRBO 2018) held by the International Association of Rice Bran Oil in Hanoi.
Mainly for export
After a friend told him of the benefits of using rice bran oil, Tran Dung, a resident in Phu Nhuan District, Ho Chi Minh City, purchased his first bottle on his next visit to a local supermarket.
“Previously, I only used soybean oil and had never even heard of rice bran oil, so I was curious to give it a try,” Dung said.
Different studies in other countries have shown evidence that rice bran oil is one of the healthiest plant-based oils.
Despite the benefits and its availability in Vietnamese supermarkets for the past five years, rice bran oil is still largely unknown amongst local consumers.
Though rice bran oil is produced in Vietnam, the vast majority is extracted specifically for export.
According to Tran Anh Dung, brand manager of Cai Lan Oils and Fats Industries Company (CALOFIC), about 80 percent of the country’s supply is exported to overseas markets where the benefits of rice bran oil are already well known.
Another factor in rice bran oil’s stifled popularity is that it sells for 20 percent higher than other popular oils on the market due, in part, to being extracted from the outer layer of rice, the most nutritious part of the grain.
“Vietnamese just don’t empathize with the benefits of rice bran oil,” Dung added.
CALOFIC is the first company in Vietnam to produce rice bran oil from 100 percent domestically grown rice, taking advantage of the country’s abundant supply of rice bran.
Many benefits and potentialities
Peh Ping Teik, chairman of the International Association of Rice Bran Oil, shared at the ICRBO 2018 that rice bran oil is often used in cooking by students and busy people in Japan.
Rice bran oil contains a rich source of anti-oxidants including Vitamin E, Phytosterols, and Gamma Oryzanol, which facilitate anti-aging efforts and maintain a healthy heart by reducing blood cholesterol levels, Teik explained.
In addition, it also has many fatty acids and micronutrients necessary for humans, he continued.
At the ICRBO 2018, Cao Quoc Hung, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said that the country needs to leverage its high rice production to push for the manufacturing and consumption of rice bran oil.
Sharing this view, Dr. M.V. Mehta from India praised the quality of rice bran oil extraction in Vietnam.
The director of a rice exporter in the southern province of An Giang said Vietnam has yet to take the full advantage of its potential for rice bran production.
Currently, several companies in Vietnam are extracting rice bran for plant oil production and other value-added products including cosmetics, he said.