why is white rice cheaper than brown rice if it’s the processed form of latter?


why is white rice cheaper than brown rice if it’s the processed form of latter?

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1. A practical factor: White rice has been stripped of the bran and germ of the rice seed. The bran and germ of the rice seed both contain oils which can oxidize and go rancid over time. This means that white rice can be stored for years longer than brown rice without going bad, and it can be stored under less strictly controlled conditions. This makes white rice easier to work with. This in turn reduces the costs of storage, and reduces losses from spoilage.

2. An economic factor: Commodities cost “whatever the market will bear”. People are willing to pay more for brown rice and expect it to cost more. Brown rice is assumed to be healthier and “more natural” than white rice, and this gives it positive associations in the minds of some consumers. Brown rice is thought of as “better for you”, and so people expect it to be sold at a premium for being a better product. Sellers are more than happy to sell it for a premium, because that increases their profit margins on a product that already costs more to handle.

White rice is just brown rice with the bran removed. The bran has oil in it which can be extracted to form another product, rice bran oil. By splitting the cost of production between two products a lower price can be provided for the white rice.

Another factor is that the oil in the bran means that brown rice can spoil more easily than white rice. Shorter shelf life and more costly transportation means brown rice pushes brown rice to be more expensive.

Not sure if it’s the case with rice, but for a lot of products the ‘raw’ form is more expensive than processed because you’ve got to use the higher quality stuff.

It’s most obvious with fruits and vegetables; all the stuff you buy in the shop will be a nice neat shape, fairly clean, and free from bruises and gouges. None of that matters if it’s going to be chopped up and hidden in other food, so even though there’s a processing cost it still works out cheaper. That processing also hides any imperfections in taste/texture, and can often be tweaked to provide a consistent taste by mixing different batches.

Why is puffed rice so god damned expensive compared to dry rice? It’s a shelf stable high volume commodity product.

You are adding one massive industrial process onto a sting of 5, it should add pennies per pound. Double the price is fine, but not a full order of magnitude 1000+% increase at retail.

Cereal is about the cheapest food on earth, until it’s breakfast cereals. It’s 10x more work to turn grains into bread with 1/10th the shelf life with a much smaller margin.

It’s life if roasted peanuts were .99c & salted roasted peanuts were $9.99

I was wondering the same thing about milk… The more fat they take out of it (which i guessed should require more processing work), the cheaper it sells.

I think most people covered the best answers. One possible thing is also that the economies of scale work better when processing white rice as it is much more popular. If something is sold more, the cost of producing it will go down.

In comparison, processing of brown rice is rarer due to lower demand, meaning it is not as efficient to do so.

Same logic applies to ketchup with sugar and no sugar. No sugar ketchup is 4x more expensive but has less ingredients. You are paying more for a healthier version even though it was processed less

So in the case of unrefined vs refined sugar, same factors?

Like it’s cheaper to store processed sugar because they already have the facilities for that but the unprocessed (well, less-processed) needs its own space, plus it’s seen as more healthy so people are ok paying an extra twenty cents a pound?


The stuff they process out includes a lot of oils that tend to cause spoilage/rancidity

This means brown rice expires more quickly, and more readily than white rice, making it much harder to work with & store

That, and people are willing to pay more for brown rice. Sounds healthier.

Why does X cost $Y?

Because people are willing to pay $Y.

Popcorn costs pennies. People pay $5 or more at the theater. But popcorn at the movies is tradition, so people pay it. The cost to make the popcorn is irrelevant. It’s a big movie, they want popcorn. This is the only way to get it.

My company sells expensive scientific electronics. A box the size of a lunchbox costs $40,000. It costs us roughly half that to build. And it’s been long enough to not need to worry about past development costs. But nobody else makes something comparable. So universities and the Air Force pay it.

I think for brown rice, it’s seen by customers the same way as wheat bread. Things that are seen as the healthier option are expected to be a little more expensive. Notice that the cost to produce is not part of that equation.

They’re generally about the same price if you control for the type and brand.

For instance:



All else being equal, you’d expect white rice to be more expensive, but I suspect because it’s a higher volume item, there’s some economy of scale that makes up the difference.

If you were five, I would mention in addition to the other responses, that the cost of production sometimes is not a factor in the price that you sell it for. The price you can sell something for is closely related to the price that someone is willing to spend on it. This is not only always true, and somewhat over simplified. A luxury car that sells for 3x the average car price does not mean it costs 3x to produce.

Health Food premium. I’m old enough to remember when brown rice cost less than white rice. In fact many grains that were once considered “poor people food” now sell for a premium at places like Whole Foods.

People are willing to pay more for brown rice, so the distributors/retailers charge accordingly.

Everyone is over complicating this.

One word.. Marketing

Brown rice is “healthier” which encouraged supermarkets to move the price up

Price is rarely based on cost. In terms of price all cost tells you is the minimum you can charge without losing money. Brown rice costs more because white rice is seen as the default and brown as a “healthy alternative product” so sellers can price it as if it is a higher quality product.