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FamilyMart to expand with rice flour baked goods

TAIPEI -- FamilyMart (全家), the second largest convenience store chain in Taiwan, expects a 15-percent growth in sales of bread and baked goods thanks to the launch yesterday of prepackaged rice-flour based pastries.

Taiwan FamilyMart Co. said that its new products aim to provide the public with an alternative to already popular pastry products made from wheat flour.

Pan Jin-tin (潘進丁), chairman and CEO of Taiwan FamilyMart, said at a press conference that this is the third time the convenience store has cooperated with the Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) to promote domestically grown produce.

The previous endeavors — baked sweet yams and fresh juices — were all very successful, Pan said, and the store hopes the new rice flour series can duplicate the good results.

FamilyMart is eyeing a bigger share of the baked goods market — estimated at NT$20 billion (US$663.2 million) annually — with the new products.

By the end of the year, FamilyMart plans to launch another wave of rice flour baked goods, Pan said. He said that other products, including noodles and even more pastries based on rice, can be expected in 2015.

Shih Kuen-ho, a rice flour researcher at the COA, said that rice has a digestion rate of 98 percent compared to wheat's 92 percent. Rice flour also does not contain gluten, which people with celiac disease cannot tolerate.

COA Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) also expressed hope that the new items can increase domestic consumption of rice. Each person in Taiwan used to consume 90 kilograms of rice annually, but the figure fell to just 45 kg last year, Chen said, citing statistics.

FamilyMart expects to use 4,500 metric tons of rice in its fresh food products in 2014, including in boxed meals and fan tuan (rice wraps). The chain said that its rice usage could increase 15 percent in 2015 thanks to newly launched items.

FamilyMart operates some 3,000 stores around Taiwan, making it second in number only to 7-Eleven.

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