Our Story

SunRice has had a long association with Australian agriculture and the land. Today, we’re one of the largest rice companies in the world and are proud to provide nutritious food to people in almost 50 countries.

From co-operative beginnings

SunRice has had a long association with Australian agriculture and the land. It was formed in 1950 when early rice growers pooled their funds to establish a co-operative and built a much-needed rice mill at Leeton in the Riverina region of New South Wales.

Sunwhite launches

In 1955, the co-operative launched its own branded retail pack of ‘Sunwhite’ rice. It was the first time that nutritional value, product quality and consistency were emphasised in the marketing of Australian rice.

Changing tastes

As in most industrialised countries, the potato was the historic staple carbohydrate in Australia. The great opportunity for SunRice came in the 1970s when migration from Asia to Australia was significant and the cuisines available in Australian cities changed almost overnight.

Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean restaurants appeared, featuring rice as the main carbohydrate. As Australia became more cosmopolitan, Australians grew increasingly interested in cooking Asian and other ethnic foods at home, leading to a new market for rice.

Pursuing innovation

Decades of research and adoption of new technology followed, with SunRice manufacturing an ever-growing and innovative range of new products, from rice flour and snacks to microwave rice and ready-to-go meals. New markets were also found for rice by-products, including livestock and companion animal feeds and bedding, ensuring not one part of a paddy grain goes to waste after harvest.

Drought hits

SunRice’s diversified business portfolio and global sourcing program held the business – and its markets – in good stead during almost a decade of debilitating drought during the 2000s. Local Australian production dropped to just 19,000 tonnes in 2008 – from an annual average of 1 million tonnes – and SunRice made the difficult decision to place two of its three mills into a care and maintenance program.

A global business

Having strengthened its operations during the drought, when favourable conditions returned for Australian rice growers, SunRice rapidly reclaimed world markets.

Today the SunRice Group comprises around 2,200 employees across 11 individual businesses based in Australia, the United States, the Middle East, the Solomon Islands, the Pacific and Papua New Guinea. Together they service almost 50 global markets. With a long tradition of innovation and growth, SunRice is now one of the largest branded rice food companies in the world, and an Australian icon.