China’s largest retailer has taken its first steps into food production with the launch of the largest hydroponic farm in China.
The factory is part of a strategic partnership between JD.com and Japanese chemical manufacturing giant Mitsubishi Chemical.
It aims to combined bleeding-edge agricultural technology with JD’s state-of-the-art retail infrastructure.
Spanning over 11,000 sqm, the factory incorporates a hydroponic culturing system with solar light and a closed seedling production environment using artificial light.
Currently it can produce spinach, cabbage, red and green lettuce, coriander, and more. This, JD says, will provide customers with new options for “safe, nutritious and environmentally-friendly food options”, both online and at JD’s 7FRESH supermarkets.
All crops produced at the factory are tracked from the time they are planted to when they are delivered.
In China, in particular, consumers place high importance on food safety while the overuse of fertilizer, environmental deterioration, and rapid population increase have caused soil problems.
In the new facility, temperature, humidity, light, and liquid fertilizer are automatically controlled by the factory’s management system, enabling more standardised production of high-quality vegetables without the challenge of seasonal changes.
JD says that the new factory is more efficient than traditional agriculture systems, producing a higher output of vegetables. For example, it can grow 19 batches of spinach in a year, compared to just 4 batches per year in a field or 6 per year in a greenhouse.
“The JD Plant Factory in Tongzhou marks JD’s entry into the very beginning of the fresh food production chain, allowing us to guarantee that the fresh goods we sell have been treated with the care JD applies to everything we do,” said Xiaosong Wang, President of JD FMCG and Food businesses.
“JD’s supply chain technology, logistics network and e-commerce expertise combined with Mitsubishi Chemical’s sophisticated growing technology puts us in an ideal position to create an entirely new model for agriculture, and cultivates a fresh and healthy lifestyle in China.”