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Riceland knows rice.

Riceland Knows Rice

Stuttgart-Based Company Is Nation's Largest Rice Miller

Bill Reed, assistant vice president for corporate development at Riceland Foods Inc., once tried to visualize the amount of rice his company handles.

He came up with this equation: If all the rice Riceland handled was milled, put in 1-pound packages and stacked on the playing surface of a football field, the stack would reach higher than the John Hancock Building at Chicago.

"Now that probably means nothing in Arkansas, but it's big," says Reed, who jokingly adds that he is not a Chicago native.

The building is more than 100 stories high."

It's no wonder Riceland is the largest rice miller in the United States, the nation's seventh-largest grain storage company and a Fortune 500 company.

It ranks second behind Arkansas Best Corp. on the Arkansas Business Top 50 with 1990 revenues of $644 million.

Riceland is a farmer-owned marketing cooperative founded in 1921. It was begun primarily by Stuttgart farmers who decided they could gain dominance in the market by selling rice cooperatively rather than as individual growers.

The farmers were right.

Riceland now provides marketing services for rice, soybeans, wheat, milo, corn and oats grown by 11,500 farmer members in Arkansas and nearby states. It receives grain at 35 locations.

Each year, Riceland's 2,500 employees store, transport, process and market more than 100 million bushels of grain as raw grains and products such as Riceland Rice, Chefway oil and shortenings, soybean meal, rice bran and lecigran soy lecithin (a blending agent).

Still based at Stuttgart, Riceland has, for the past several months, been attempting to consolidate its 22 affiliated grain drying operations with the mother operation.

According to Richard E. Bell, president and chief executive officer, the consolidation is a way to streamline operations.

Riceland recently expanded capacity at its oiling plant by 25 percent. A granular lecithin plant was built in 1978 to meet the growing demand for lecithin.

"We are planning additional capacity there," Reed says. "Lecithin has become an important product for us."

From a consumer's standpoint, Riceland has made changes, too. In 1989, it introduced flavored rice products and rice dishes with a five-minute preparation time "to fit in with today's lifestyle," Reed says.

Last year, a new line of oil products was introduced under the Riceland label.

"This year, we have dedicated a research and technical center, reinforcing our position as the premier supplier of rice, edible oil and lecithin products," Reed says.

The center will be used for testing to improve existing products and expand technical services for customers.

"Basically, we've positioned ourselves for the future," Reed says.

PHOTO : HIGH TECH: A new research and technical center recently was opened at Stuttgart by Riceland Foods Inc. to test and improve its products.

PHOTO : NATION'S BEST: Riceland Foods Inc. at Stuttgart is the nation's largest rice miller thanks in part to its ever-improving technology.

Kane Webb Arkansas Business Staff
COPYRIGHT 1991 Journal Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Top 50 Profiles; United States' largest rice miller Riceland Foods Inc.
Author:Webb, Kane
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:company profile
Date:Jul 15, 1991
Previous Article:Chicken or the egg?
Next Article:Back on track.

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