February 16, 2013

Emergency Rice in a Beer Can


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Since the Earthquake and Tsunami of March 2011 there has been an increasing trend among businesses and homes  in Japan to stockpile food for emergencies since there was a lack of back up food supplies available at the time. Recognising the demand for emergency food supplies and realizing that most emergency food tastes bad, food manufacturer CTC developed 'rice in a can' or mekan.

Image via Rakuten

According to CTC their 'rice in a can' not only provides Japanese people with their primary staple in an emergency but also a delicious meal produced from high quality rice. CTC don't just want people to eat in an emergency, they want them to eat well.

Image via gigazine.net

The logic for storing rice in a can borrows from beer and soda companies simply because they are easy to store, transport and have a longer shelf life. CTC have infused the cans with nitrogen gas so that the rice stays fresh for up to five years. The cans are also engineered to be lightweight but heavy duty and able to withstand allot of damage in a disaster.

Images via gigazine.net

CTC sources the rice from Kagoshima prefecture in Kyushu, Southwest Japan and claims that the rice is farmed using traditional farming methods irrigated by water from ancient mountain springs.

Currently the cans are being sold by Amazon Japan, and other online retailers at around 500 Yen (US$ 5.5) per can.

Images via Gigazine and Rakuten.

Each can holds 300g of rice which is enough to feed a small family or a couple of hungry employees.

Image via gigazine.net

As the rice is kept fresh there is no need to wash the rice before cooking just pour it straight into a rice cooker, which is convenient at times when there is no access to clean water supplies.

Image via gigazine.net

Aside from use in emergencies the canned rice may also appeal to Japanese students that travel or study overseas for long periods of time who just get that craving for Japanese style rice.

The concept of rice in a beer or soda can could also apply to disaster relief efforts and emergency contingency planning in other countries which are prone to natural disasters and where rice is a staple. A can of rice provides a more hygenic, storage friendly and recyclable alternative to bags and sacks of unwashed rice; particularly during floods.

Images via Rakuten and Giramonda.com

Foreign tourists may also want to purchase this rice in a can as a novelty souvenir when they visit Japan or in specialist stores in their home countries, especially if the quality of the rice is as high as CTC claims.

Images via Rakuten

Whether or not this takes off in Japan remains to be seen since people only really need to buy a case of cans every five years- assuming they don't eat the supplies in the event of  a major emergency. But if every family in Japan buys a case for their stockpile that is already probably enough for CTC. Even for businesses 500 Yen for a can of rice per employee may seem too expensive a precaution and they are unlikely to consider the taste or quality of the rice when preparing emergency supplies.

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