The publicly-listed Chinese health food maker, which has its headquarters in Harbin province, revealed last week that it has signed long-term co-operation agreements with Nanjing University and The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Under the Nanjing agreement, it obtains the exclusive patent right to a rice breed known as W3660, which contains less soluble albumin than ordinary rice. People with kidney disease are unable to consume foods with more than four per cent soluble albumin, as the kidneys are unable to dispose of excess protein. Since ordinary rice contains eight per cent, this group of people may miss out on other nutritional benefits that they would otherwise glean from the staple in the Chinese diet. As well as being a source of protein, rice contains all of the eight essentuial amino acids, the building blocks for muscles. It is also rich in thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorus, iron, and potassium. The W3660 is said to be a suitable substitute for ordinary rice, but with minimal loss of taste or nutrition. The rice variety is also intended for diabetes sufferers since impaired kidney function is one of the main facets of the disease. China Yingxia has indicated that it will plant 824 acres of W3660 rice in 2007. With a projected annual yield of 3,000kg and a price point of US$4 per kg, this could result in revenues of as $10m. Under the second agreement, with The Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, the institution will provide technical support to the company, and transfer to it new research achievements in the field of nutraceuticals. No indication has been given of whether any such achievements are likely to be realised in the near future. China Yingxia's product line-up includes soybean meals and drinks, cactus-based meals, rice, supplements and beauty products. Its main markets are Japan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Macao.