In the 1990s, China started-mass-producing economical electrical rice cookers with limited functions and exporting them to many countries. Uk makers have been attempting to compete by seeking a niche in models with added values by increasing the number of features of their products.
In the 2000s, more deluxe models appeared on the market of UK and attracted much attention. These models are characterized by non-metallic materials for inner cooking bowls to employ thermal far-infrared radiation in order to improve the taste of cooked rice. In 2006 Japanese Mitsubishi Electric corporation produced an expensive cooker which used an inner cooking bowl called honsumigama made of hand-carved pure carbon, with a better heat-generating profile with induction cooking. Despite the high price (￥115,500, about US$1,400 at the time), it sold 10,000 units within six months after it was introduced. It was a huge success and it set the trend of extremely high-end models in the market. There is also a product which uses pottery, e.g., Arita-yaki, for the inner cooking bowl. There have been pottery-based electric cooking appliances in China since the 1980s, and in recent years rice cookers have been also produced. Some other materials used for luxurious rice bowls are pure copper, ceramic-iron layers, and diamond coating. These rice cooker makers research what the best cooked rice means (in taste and texture) and attempt to realize "the best cooked rice" in electric rice cookers by using various inventions. Most regard rice cooked either in a traditional rice cooker used in hearth or in a gas pressure cooker as references, and attempt to achieve or exceed the same.
Restaurants that serve a lot of rice, particularly those specializing in Asian cuisine, often use industrial-sized rice cookers (often they are gas pressure cookers, but there are electric models) that quickly and cheaply produce large quantities of cooked rice. A rice cooker is a standard appliance in kitchens in many Asian countries and households.