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Mr Ben shows some of his family business’s rice bran oil, which is rich in nutrients and plant sterols that can lower blood cholesterol.

Ben W Boonlai has three core beliefs: the uniqueness and resourcefulness of humanity, the beauty and strength of Mother Nature, and the importance of rice, Thailand’s staple for centuries.

These beliefs have only grown stronger since he, elder brother Warrawat and younger sister Wanwimol co-founded Medifoods (Thailand) Co in 2011.

“We’ve established Medifoods not only for economic purposes but also for our faith in human beings and their ability and productivity, in natural practices and in the wisdom in rice farming in the short term and its virtue in the long run,” says Mr Ben, 47, who has an engineering background.

He is the second son of the Boonlai family that runs Liang Charoen Rice Mill in Chaiyaphum province, which has the capacity to produce 200 tonnes of milled rice a day, and Eam Heng Long Rice Mill in Saraburi, which has a capacity of 1,000 tonnes a day.

“Above all, we believe in rice and its potential, and that’s why we’ve invested more than 300 million baht over the last five years to make innovative rice products and add value to the staple food of Thailand,” says Mr Ben.

Starting with organic rice produced mainly in three districts of Chaiyaphum province — Kaeng Khro, Ban Thaen and Khon Sawan — Medifoods now also offers rice-based flour, dietary supplements, natural skin products and essential rice oil.

It has three core business units — rice, rice flour and rice oil — with one factory in Kaeng Khro employing about 100 people.

It has secured an organic rice contract with more than 300 farming families in Chaiyaphum covering more than 2,000 rai, mainly for Hom Mali fragrant rice and riceberry, a superior organic rice variety cross-bred between the Hom Nil and Khao Dok Mali 105 strains.

Medifoods also buys such rice from community enterprises in Roi Et and Surin.

The company aims this year to generate revenue of 100 million baht, up 300% from last year, boosted by value-added products. Exports make up half the revenue.

Superfoods provide about 50% of revenue, with the other half coming from speciality rice such as brown rice and Gaba rice.

“Rice is considered one of the miracles given by Mother Nature to mankind in maintaining the human race,” says Mr Ben.

“Research, both local and international, has found brown rice, in particular, contains more than 30 types of essential nutrients. It also provides great benefits from rice germs, rice bran and essential nutrients. It also provides great benefits from rice germs, rice bran and essential oil. It is good for the brain and learning.”

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