The Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (RAS) awarded Queensland company Rice Culture the highly regarded President's Medal for its incredible business innovation, crowning the female-led business as its 16th Annual President's Medal Award winner.
Selected from more than 4000 entries, 81 champions and six finalists, Rice Culture has taken a holistic approach to its business, looking beyond product taste to create a business that has a strong economic, social and environmental impact.
The business, which began in 2012, came from Tomoko Onuki discovering two things when she moved to Australia 17 years ago. The first was that it was hard to find a job that works around school hours for mothers, and the second, it was even more difficult to find locally sourced miso.
From that idea, Tomoko Onuki has created an award-winning business that has taken an innovative approach by utilising local ingredients to create a 1200-year-old recipe that is 'good for the gut' and supports the local community by creating jobs that fit into school hours.
"All of our staff are Japanese mums with kids at school, who operate from around 9am until pick-up time. Mums are very efficient, and I know that whatever I ask them to do, it'll be done before 2.30 pm in preparation for school pick-up. We help each other and it works," said Rice Culture owner Tomoko Onuki.
"Sometimes innovation means going back to old traditions. We are making live food and every batch is different, the temperature can vary, and we will adjust accordingly."
The pinnacle of the Sydney Royal Wine, Dairy and Fine Food competitions, the annual President's Medal is a one-of-a-kind award in Australia, judging on a triple bottom line assessment to determine a producer's social, economic and environmental impact on not only the industry but their local communities.
Royal Agricultural Society of NSW president Michael Millner said the President's Medal is the highest honour the RAS and Sydney Royal competitions award to producers.
"It is the only competition of its kind in Australia, which looks beyond product taste and presentation, to examine the mission and production cycle of the underlying business. The President's Medal takes into consideration not only the commercial success and the environmental footprint, but also the social and community impact," Mr Millner said.
"This medal best embodies the mission of the RAS, which is to improve the quality of agricultural produce through competitions, as well as serving our vision for a community that understands and values award-quality produce."
As the 16th annual President's Medal winner, Rice Culture will receive a $10,000 prize and have the opportunity to be represented at the 2024 Sydney Royal Easter Show to display its award-winning local, organic, and non-GMO vintage Miso.