Riverina’s Randall Organic Rice continues to flourish with the team in the running for the National Delicious Awards in Sydney tonight.
It comes after the business secured gold in the NSW Delicious Award earlier this year.
Founder Peter Randall, who has been growing organic rice for three decades, said the secret to the family business’s success was the single-origin products and all-in-one operation, as well as having no middlemen in the supply chain.
“We grow, mill and package all of our rice products at our farm and supply them directly to our customers,” he said.
“We’re one of the few that mills and package on the farm.
“We’re also in a unique position where we get to see our customers face-to-face who give us immediate feedback.
“There’s nothing more satisfying than direct contact.”
We’re also in a unique position where we get to see our customers face-to-face who give us immediate feedback.Peter Randall, founder of Randall Organic Rice
The Randall farm, situated in Murrami between Leeton and Griffith, grows brown, semi-brown and white rice of short- and long-grain varieties: Langi, Doongara, Jasmine and Koshihikari.
The farm’s Koshihikari product, soft sticky rice usually found in rice puddings and sushi, won the 2017 NSW Delicious Award.
Only one of few organic growers
The farm also produces rice cakes and rice flour and is one of only a handful of organic rice growers in Australia, according to Mr Randall.
“Out of about 400 to 500 rice growers, we’re only one of about seven [organic growers],” he said.
Mr Randall said the business flourished after deregulation of the industry in 2009.
“We started with a low base where we had to set up a mill and a brand name,” he said.
“It’s been seven years in the making but the past 2–3 years have been great with being recognised.”
He said the common theme of feedback from customers, including chefs, is the full and fresh flavours.
Drought having an impact
Mr Randall said the current drought has had an impact recently on yields.
“This past year has been harder because of irrigation and water-supply issues from the drought,” he said.
“We had to cut back on some markets last year...yields were down.
“Like all other farmers, the drought’s affecting us, so its a challenge.”
In a 2018 harvest-update statement, the business said “we have just harvested our worst crop in 10 years in terms of yield”.
“Although this is new season rice just harvested, it is breaking up a bit in the mill due to the extreme dryness on the farm at the moment,” the statement reads.
“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience due to the appearance of the rice.
“It will still taste the same and is more suited to congee-type dishes.”
Despite the difficult time, Mr Randall vowed to continue putting in the effort.
“We’ll keep improving our agronomy and grow better crops,” he said.