ASIA – Jingdong Group, the Chinese ecommerce giant best known as JD.com has partnered with Japanese Mitsubishi Chemical to open a hydroponic plant to serve customers in China.
The factory which is located in the Tongzhou District of Beijing, is said to be the largest in China and will produce vegetables and other products made available to its customers online and at its chain of supermarkets.
The plant currently produces a range of vegetables including spinach, cabbage, and coriander, and uses an integrated hydroponic culturing system with solar light as well as a closed seedling production environment with artificial light.
The fresh produce is tracked from when they are planted to when they are delivered,and will be made available to JD.com’s customers online and at its 7Fresh supermarkets this month.
The company said it plans to roll out more fruits and vegetables to its production range in the near future.
“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.
“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 afresh and healthy lifestyle in China,” said Xiaosong Wang, president of JD FMCG and food businesses.
Last year, the company launched a blockchain platform to enable customers to view the sourcing and development process of foods and products they purchased on its online marketplace.
Benefits of hydroponics
The crops are monitored closely at the factory, putting into consideration the increasing demand for transparency among Chinese consumers while addressing the problem of overuse of fertilizer, environmental deterioration, rapid population increase and soil problems.
The company added that the plant’s temperature, humidity, light, and liquid fertilizer were automatically controlled by the on-site management system,allowing for more standardized production of vegetables without concerns about seasonal changes.
Integrated with JD.com’s cold chain logistics network, the facility can produce able to produce a higher output of vegetables, churning out 19 batches of spinach a year compared to four batches annually in a field or six per year in a greenhouse.
The company claims the technology saves on water, with just half a liter of water required to grow any of the vegetables.