Even tea gets high-tech touch

China Daily (Canada) - - PEOPLE - By SHI XIAOFENG in­Wuzhen, Zhe­jiang and SHI JING in Shang­hai

While the in­ter­net has trans­formedWuzhen from a once tran­quil wa­ter town to a mag­net for tech­nol­ogy ty­coons, it has also helped to up­grade and trans­form the tra­di­tional in­dus­tries in the city.

Phoenix Tea House, lo­cated be­side the renowned Xizha re­sort in Wuzhen, is one that has linked tra­di­tional in­dus­tries with the most-ad­vanced on­line tech­nolo­gies. Es­tab­lished in East China’s Shan­dong prov­ince in June 2014, Phoenix Tea House moved to Wuzhen in Zhe­jiang prov­ince in Oc­to­ber last year.

Serv­ing tea is the very ba­sic func­tion of the tea­house. Its im­por­tance is grow­ing, how­ever, as a plat­form serv­ing as an in­cu­ba­tor for star­tups.

Of­fice rooms and a regis­tra­tion ad­dress are of­fered for free. Op­er­a­tors of the tea­house also help star­tups to look for cap­i­tal and even in­vest in some projects — up to a 5 per­cent stake.

A to­tal of 33 com­pa­nies have set­tled into Phoenix Tea House, 80 per­cent of which are from tra­di­tional in­dus­tries.

Ac­cord­ing to Fu Jian, gen­eral man­ager of Phoenix Tea House, the big­gest change they have brought to these tra­di­tional in­dus­tries is a new busi­ness model.

“These com­pa­nies used to pro­duce first and think about sales later. But now con­sumers place the or­ders first and then com­pa­nies pro­duce. When or­ders grow, the size of pro­duc­tion will in­crease ac­cord­ingly. Con­sumers can also rest as­sured be­cause ev­ery­thing is trans­par­ent and recorded,” says Fu.

Hain­ing Ding Xiang Food is an­other tra­di­tional op­er­a­tion that got a high-tech boost thanks to Phoenix Tea House.

Zhu Fei, 25, founded the com­pany four months ago. The post­grad­u­ate stu­dent ma­jor­ing in an­i­mal hus­bandry re­al­ized Chi­nese an­i­mal hus­bandry is “cry­ing for trans­for­ma­tion”.

To en­sure that his com­pany stands out, Zhu of­fers a bet­ter breed of chicken, which grows more slowly for 150 days and ma­tures to a smaller size.

Mean­while, in­ter­net tech­nolo­gies pro­vided by Phoenix Tea House have helped Zhu’s com­pany to in­stall en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­sors and cam­eras to cover the en­tire pro­duc­tion process. Con­sumers can scan the QR code on the pack­age and get a video record of the feed­ing, breed­ing, lay­ing of eggs, hatch­ing, brood­ing, freerange breed­ing, slaugh­ter and pack­ag­ing.

Un­der these cir­cum­stances, the prices of Ding Xiang’s prod­ucts are sure to be higher than oth­ers. The eggs are priced at 3 yuan (44 cents) each, or roughly 20 yuan per 500 grams, while the av­er­age price in the mar­ket is about 15 yuan per 500 grams. Chick­ens are sold for 158 yuan each, which is 50 per­cent higher than the av­er­age mar­ket price.

“As food safety has be­come the top pri­or­ity of most con­sumers, our prod­ucts, which can be traced through­out the en­tire process, will be­come ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive in the mar­ket,” says Zhu.

Zhe­jiang Hu­ateng An­i­mal Hus­bandry, the pork sup­plier for the first World In­ter­net Con­fer­ence and this year’s G20 Sum­mit in Hangzhou, is the first com­pany that Phoenix Tea House worked with since the lat­ter’s move toWuzhen.

Adopt­ing an eco-friendly breed­ing mode in­tro­duced fromEuro­peasabench­mark, Hu­ateng has been a leader in off­line sales. But when it started to ex­plore the on­line mar­ket, Phoenix Tea House wasthe one to help in­stall the sen­sor sys­tems so that con­sumers could check out these trace­able pork prod­ucts.

Even though Hu­ateng prod­ucts’ prices are 10 times higher than the mar­ket av­er­age, con­sumers have been show­ing grow­ing in­ter­est in them. Sales in the first 10 months of this year were more than 10.34 mil­lion yuan, up 597 per­cent yearonac­cord­ing to Zhang Han­min, vice-gen­eral man­ager ofHu­ateng.

“The an­nual to­tal sales will reach 15 mil­lion yuan this year, with the profit hit­ting 1.9 mil­lion yuan. We ex­pect to­tal sales to come at 50 mil­lion yuan next year, with the profit reach­ing 6 mil­lion yuan,” says Zhang.

Con­tact the writ­ers through shi­jing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

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