The Thai Ministry of Commerce recently launched the ‘Think Rice, Think Thailand’ campaign, which aims to boost the awareness and status of Thai rice globally.
Superfood for the skin
Somprasong Payakapan, permanent honorary president at the Thai cosmetics cluster under the Department of Industrial Promotion, said Thailand hoped to capitalise on Asia’s increasing influence on innovation in beauty to promote its rice-based ingredients.
“Rice is not just food. Nutrients from rice also have properties that benefit the skin Rice is the answer to many beauty problems – it nourishes our bodies as food and doubles as a safe, delicate skin care product.”
According to Payakapan, local beauty brands that are using Thai rice as an ingredient in their cosmetic products are becoming increasingly popular in foreign markets.
Currently, Thai rice ingredients that are used in personal care products ranging from serums and shampoos, to scrubs and massage oils.
In particular, Payakapan believes rice stem cells have vast potential in the market.
“Rice stem cells are more beneficial to the skin than extracts from other plants and fruits. Nutrients can be absorbed and used by the skin the same way out bodies accept food. Rice stem cells boost and rejuvenate our skin to make it more youthful. The results are visible quickly,” said Payakapan.
He added that rice “will be the new beauty trend and a new movement for skin care” and that Thailand would be at the centre of it.
“We are pretty much the only country in the world that produces skin care products from rice and rice stem cells,” he claimed.
GRBO: Next ‘it’ ingredient?
Aside from rice stem cells, experts on Thai rice believe virgin rice bran oil may be the next sought after ingredient.
Initial studies into gamma oryzanol-enriched rice bran oil, or GRBO, has suggested that it can provide many health benefits such as alleviating hypertension, risk of cancer and diabetes, as well as reduce diabetes.
According to Riantong Singanusang, director of the research institute for academic excellence in fat and oil, Naresuan University, GRBO is an extremely potent antioxidant.
“Gamma oryzanol is a very powerful antioxidant. It has six times more antioxidant activity than vitamin E. It is only found in rice bran oil and not in any other vegetable oil.”
The oil also contains moisturising elements like squalene, a naturally occurring oil that acts as an emollient and ceramides which help skin retain moisture.
Its powerful properties mean rice bran oil can be used in a wide ride of beauty and personal care products as an anti-inflammatory or anti-ageing component.
Thailand currently produces almost 33 million metric tonnes of paddy rice, which brings billions into the country. As one of Thailand’s most significant commodities, the government is continuing to boost and safeguard its standards and enhance its appeal.
“We have recently revised our Thai Rice Standards in 2016. These standards enable our brands to reach the requirements of each market segment in each country. The department also updated these standards to meet different consumer demands and boost our competitiveness around the globe and enhance global recognition. This makes it easier for exporters to compete in each market segment.”
Additionally, the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will be focused on the development of the rice industry.
One of its key goals is to promote Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), where farmers make suitable use of chemicals and their crop yields are safe for consumers.
“Our 2021 goal is to have 20m rai (3,200,000 hectares) of GAP farmlands which will produce more than 10 million metric tonnes of high-quality rice to meet market demands,” said Prasong Prapaitrakul, acting director-general of Rice Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.
Its other focus is to promote organic rice farming and reach its goal of having one million rai (160,000 hectares) by 2021.
“Organic rice farming is completely chemical-free. The entire process is natural, there is a specific market for it. The Rice Department is closely overseeing these two key developments. There will also be a traceability system and certification to gain consumer and business operators' confidence.”
The Ministry of Commerce said it hoped to promote organic rice as an ingredient for organic skin care.
“With Thai rice, beauty products creation is healthier, particularly organics as it is suitable for any type of skin, especially sensitive skin. Organic cosmetics made from Thai rice is a suitable alternative because they are free of any allergens. With its natural ingredients, they are completely safe to use and do not clog pores.”