Nice Rice, a new sustainably farmed rice brand, has launched in the UK on a mission to create the demand for a better rice industry by championing sustainably farmed rice with no compromise on taste or convenience.
The brand has already secured a national listing in Waitrose and became available in 259 stores and online on 21 May. It can be purchased directly at wearenicerice.com and the brand is in active discussions with independent stores nationwide.
Nice Rice was founded with a vision to build a sustainable future for the world’s most eaten food. Conventional rice has an enormous impact on the planet and a shocking sustainability record. It is the second highest emitter of greenhouse gases (after beef) in all of food production – at 2.1 gigatonnes per year – more than double the emissions of global air travel. It also uses more water than any other crop: as much as 5,000 litres to grow just 1kg of rice – equivalent to an astonishing 63 full bathtubs.
However, a lesser-known farming method has been endorsed by the UN and IPCC for being significantly more sustainable. Nice Rice exclusively sources its rice from a farmer group that follows this method and, in 2022, they achieved a 49% reduction in CO2-equivalent emissions per tonne of rice compared to the national average, a saving of 1.23kg CO2-eq per kilo of rice. This method also reduced the water used for irrigation by 3,300 litres per kilo of rice while improving the farmers’ yield by 10%.
One of the main practices of the sustainable farming method is called ‘alternate wetting and drying’ (AWD). Under AWD farmers allow their paddy fields to dry out during the growing season rather than keeping them permanently flooded. This aerates the soil, disrupting the methane-emitting bacteria that thrive in anaerobic conditions.
Nice Rice is the brainchild of Fergus O’Sullivan, previously investment director at consumer brands specialist investor Piper. His increasing concern for the climate crisis inspired him to leave Piper with the ambition to build a consumer brand that could make a positive difference. He read about the issues with conventional rice farming and was appalled by its environmental cost. After learning about the sustainable rice farming method, he couldn’t believe it wasn’t possible to buy sustainably farmed rice in the UK. And so the idea for Nice Rice was born.
Tom Shiel, Waitrose buyer, said: ‘”We’re delighted to be the first major supermarket in the UK to be listing Nice Rice. Having recently launched our plan to protect and restore nature and biodiversity across our supply chains, it makes absolute sense to support a brand that is putting its mission at the heart of everything it does. Like Nice Rice, as a purpose driven business we too aspire to create positive change across the food and farming system to build a more sustainable future for generations to come, and we applaud the innovative work they are doing.”
Fergus O’Sullivan said: “Conventional rice farming has a shocking sustainability problem that no one is talking about, while the rice market itself is dominated by uninspiring brands and products in desperate need of innovation. Our goal is to inspire people to be part of a positive change for the planet, by connecting pioneering farmers with people looking for more sustainable ways to enjoy their food. We’re confident that our products provide better tasting rice, that’s better for the planet, and we’re trying to be a better kind of business too. I am hugely excited to launch Nice Rice and believe we can, collectively, create the demand for a better rice industry.”