JD.com and Mitsubishi Chemical open hydroponic plant factory
Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com has partnered with Japanese chemical manufacturing company Mitsubishi Chemical to open the largest hydroponic plant factory in China.
The facility, part of a strategic partnership between the two companies, aims to bring cutting-edge technology in agriculture together with JD’s retail infrastructure.
Spanning 11,040 square metres and located in Beijing, the unit 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 and coriander. The fresh produce will provide JD customers with new options for safe and nutritious and food options, both online and offline at JD’s 7Fresh supermarkets.
All crops produced at the factory are tracked from the time they are planted to when they are delivered, as the company responds to increasing consumer demand for transparency.
In the facility, temperature, humidity, light, and liquid fertilizer are automatically controlled by a 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% more folate, 32% more vitamin C, 25% more potassium and 37% more phosphorus than if grown in the field. Meanwhile, the technology is said to make pesticides and agrochemicals unnecessary, reducing the need for washing.
JD.com claimed that 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.
Xiaosong Wang, president of JD FMCG and food businesses, said: “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 a fresh and healthy lifestyle in China.” Fresh vegetables from the plant factory are now available on JD.com and at 7Fresh stores. JD and Mitsubishi Chemical said they will cooperate to introduce more fruits and vegetables in the future.