Brown rice and white rice are essentially the same grain. So, why is brown rice more expensive? The main reasons all boil down to one factor—the production process.
Brown rice still has the bran layer and germ intact, while white rice is further milled and polished. The bran is the grain’s outer shell and it’s a rich source of fiber, phytochemicals, trace minerals, and B vitamins. The germ, found under the bran layer, is rich in antioxidants, B vitamins, and vitamin E. Removing the bran and germ affects the color, taste, nutritional value, and much more. Check out this article to find out how brown rice becomes white.
How does this small difference affect the price? Brown rice usually costs twice as much as white rice—the reasons why range from logical to out there. You may know that the bran and germ increase the nutritional value, but is such a price gap justified?
4 Reasons Why Brown Rice Is More Expensive
Nutritional Benefits and Health Craze
Brown rice is a whole grain which means it’s more nutritious. It’s naturally higher in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and essential fatty acids.
Brown rice also has a slightly lower glycemic index (GI) than white rice. The average GI for brown rice is 55, while white rice has a GI of 64 GI. Foods with a lower GI don’t spike your blood sugar and help you feel full for longer. This can be beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight or if you have insulin resistance.
However, brown rice still has less fiber than other whole grains. A food’s fiber content is important because fiber helps glucose break down more slowly. This means that the lower GI in brown rice doesn’t make a big difference. Both brown and white rice can spike your blood sugar.
So, what is the main reason its nutritional value makes brown rice more expensive? Because suppliers can market it as an organic, whole food. If manufacturers can get away with setting a higher price, they’ll jump at the chance, and the “all-natural” branding allows them to do so.
Storage and Transportation Costs
White rice is easier to store than brown rice and can last for years, while brown rice typically lasts up to 6 months. Our article, Can Brown Rice Go Bad, discusses brown rice’s shorter shelf life.
Brown rice requires special, costlier storage conditions to maintain the dry, cool environment the grain requires). If any moisture gets to the brown rice, it can spoil, and there go the profits.
Since it’s more prone to spoilage, brown rice must also be transported with greater care. All this can contribute to decreased income from product loss.
Supply and Demand
Globally, white rice is more popular and has a higher demand than brown rice. This fact means there are larger-scale production and distribution networks for white rice.
In contrast, brown rice has a smaller market share and requires more specialized production methods. Since supplies are lower, brown rice is considered a luxury product. Luxury product equals luxury price.
With two-thirds of the world preferring white rice to brown rice, it doesn’t look like the supply and demand will change anytime soon.
Rice Bran Makes Rice Oil
When manufacturers produce white rice, they can also sell the rice bran by-product to oil producers. If they sell brown rice, they lose this source of secondary income because there is no by-product.
Defatted rice bran mixed with rice hulls makes for a great fiber-rich cattle feed. It’s good to know that none of the by-products of making white rice go to waste.
Producers can also sell rice germ as a dietary supplement, but it’s less popular than rice bran oil.
Is Brown Rice Better Than White Rice?
Though brown rice is more nutritious than white rice, it’s also higher in lectins. Lectins are anti-nutrients that can cause digestive issues. But which is a better choice? It depends on the person.
You may handle brown rice with no problem. If that’s the case, then go ahead and enjoy this nutty grain.
White rice is more easily digestible and can also be part of a healthy diet. Rice (whole or processed) combined with beans creates a complete protein with all nine essential amino acids.
Plus, rice is a relatively low-calorie food. So, don’t be afraid to eat that rice—brown or white. As always, if you have any specific questions about your diet, ask your doctor or dietician.