The commercial rice cooker will enable the business to cook the rice needed for its sushi more quickly, efficiently, and sustainably – up to 300 kilograms of rice every hour.
Andrew Wilkinson, Ichiban managing director, said: “We’ve enjoyed substantial growth in recent years as more and more people have discovered the appeal of eating sushi. But to maintain this trajectory – and increase our capacity for further expansion – we needed to invest in new larger scale and more efficient cooking equipment.
“The finance package we’ve received from Lloyds Bank has enabled us to do just that, and this investment will be transformational for our business.”
Founded in 2005, Ichiban produces more than 500,000 packs of own-label and branded sushi each week for many of the UK’s leading retailers and supermarkets, including Tesco, Boots and Aldi.
The business currently employs more than 450 people at the Stowmarket site and reports an annual turnover of £32m.
Lloyds Banking Group’s East of England ambassador Matt Hubbard added: “We have some excellent food and agricultural businesses in Suffolk and Ichiban is a great example of a successful local business that is expanding.
Resonating with customers
“I was delighted to see the new rice cooker being installed and come back to see it now it’s up-and-running. Ichiban has a strong reputation for quality and service that really resonates with its customers.”
Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk & North Ipswich, attended a tour of the factory last week alongside representatives of Lloyds Bank.
Commenting on his visit, Poulter said: “It was really fascinating to see first-hand the intricate food manufacturing undertaken by the firm to produce its sushi. The business’ latest investment in this new equipment demonstrates a real commitment to a continued path of progression and I look forward to following its ongoing success in the future.”
Meanwhile, severe drought in southern Europe threatens to drive up the price of long grain rice by almost a third (29%).