Lotus Foods’ Experience Developing Value Chains for SRI Rice


Ken Lee¹ and Caryl Levine¹

Co-founders and Co-CEOs, Lotus Foods, California, USA 

*Corresponding author: Caryl Levine; caryl@lotusfoods.com

Volume 15(Special Issue), 2022   ;  https://doi.org/10.58297/SXFS1548  Click here for Pdf



Since 2008, Lotus Foods, a US-based importer of heirloom and pigmented rice produced on family farms, has been sourcing marketable surpluses of rice grown by farmers using System of Rice Intensification (SRI) practices. It presently sources SRI-grown rice in Cambodia, India, Indonesia, and Thailand. Lotus Foods’commitment is based on the recognition that SRI is a more efficient, environmentally responsible, and equitable way to grow rice, especially for smallholder producers. In the countries where it sources rice, it works with long-term business partners who aggregate the rice and process it for shipment, handling also certifications and quality control. In the US, Lotus Foods has the job of ensuring final quality, packaging, marketing, sales and distribution. While the company has increased the amount of SRI rice it imports over the past 10 years, it had expected to be importing a lot more. This is due to challenges on both the supply and demand side. This includes supply chain partners’ initial lack of experience in processing, business skills, and export, as well as access to credit and modern equipment. The price of Lotus Foods’ SRI rice in the marketplace is thus at the upper range due to premiums paid for organic and fair-trade certifications and supply chain inefficiencies. Nonetheless, pro-active outreach to educate American consumers and the food industry about the benefits of SRI has resonated with both and generated growing support for the company’s pioneering efforts to help “change how rice is grown around the world.”