JD plant factory to produce fresh vegetables for sale on and offline

JD has partnered with Japanese chemical manufacturing giant Mitsubishi Chemical to open the largest hydroponic “plant factory” in China.

The omnichannel retailer says the premium-quality, fresh produce produced at the new facility will provide its customers with new options for safe, nutritious and environmentally friendly food, online as well as offline at its 7Fresh supermarkets.

The factory spans 11,040sqm and 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, among others.

All crops produced at the site are tracked from the time they are planted to when they are delivered, a step toward the future of food production and retail as consumers worldwide increasingly demand transparency. In China, in particular, consumers place high importance on food safety while the overuse of fertiliser, environmental deterioration, and rapid population increase have caused soil problems.

In the new facility, temperature, humidity, light, and liquid fertiliser are automatically controlled by the factory’s management system, enabling more standardised production of high-quality vegetables without the challenge of seasonal changes. For example, spinach produced in the facility contains 80 per cent more folate, 32 per cent more vitamin C, 25 per cent more potassium and 37 per cent more phosphorus than if grown in the field. Meanwhile, the technology makes pesticides and agrochemicals unnecessary, reducing the need for washing.

JD plant factory 1

The factory can produce a higher output of vegetables than traditional agriculture systems; it can grow 19 batches of spinach in a year, compared to just four batches per year in a field or six per year in a greenhouse. It only requires half a litre of water to grow any of the factory’s vegetables. The factory is integrated with JD’s cold-chain logistics network, so vegetables can be delivered to consumers’ tables as soon as the same day they are harvested.

“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.”

Fresh vegetables from the plant factory will be available on JD.com and at 7Fresh stores from this month. JD and Mitsubishi Chemical will cooperate to introduce more fruits and vegetables in the future.

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