The largest retailer in China, Jingdong, has recently struck up a partnership with Mitsubishi Chemical, Japan’s own chemical manufacturing corporation. The partnership will result in JD.com’s opening of a plant factory; more specifically, the largest hydroponic operation in the country. The result will also include cutting edge technology combining with Jingdong’s existing infrastructure, which is already highly advanced and state-of-the-art.
The plant factory, at 11,040 square meters in size, is built to fully incorporate a system of hydroponic culturing. Artificial and solar light are used in a closed environment for seedling production. The factory is currently able to produce vegetables and herbs such as cabbage, lettuce (both red and green), coriander, and spinach, among others. The production will give the Jingdong consumers fresh, high-quality produce. Customers of JD.com will be enjoying food options that are nutritious, safe, and “green,” both online and in JD’s 7FRESH brick-and-mortar supermarkets.
Crop production involves tracking every item of produce from planting to delivery, indicating that the future in food production will allow for higher transparency in what the consumers are receiving. The Chinese population values food safety importance and pushes their companies to avoid overusing fertilizer and environmental deterioration which, along with their rapid increase in population, have all contributed to issues in China’s soil.
JD.com’s new facility has automatic controls for temperature, light, humidity, and distribution of liquid fertilizer. The controls are operated by the management system and allow for produce production to be standardized throughout changes in the season; in addition, the overseeing of the indoor growth allows for higher quality produce than would be grown in the field. For example, facility-produced spinach will have more folate, vitamin C, potassium, and phosphorus than when grown outdoors. The technology and process also makes agrochemicals and pesticides essentially obsolete to the process.
In addition to these benefits, Jingdong’s hydroponic facility is able to yield the quality produce in greater volumes. Again using spinach as an example, the factory has the capacity to produce 19 batches in a year as opposed to four batches in a field or six in a greenhouse annually. JD’s infrastructure and logistics network is already integrated to the factory, allowing customers to receive food that was cropped that very day.