I Love Produce/USA & Lantao/China Host Tour Of Chinese Produce Markets & The New Largest Food Market In Asia

In conjunction with Chinese New Year, Jim Provost of I Love Produce and John Wang of Lantao hosted executives from Stemilt Growers, Wenatchee, WA and Jasmine Vineyards, Delano, CA to visit several of China’s markets for imported fruit.

The US delegation included Jon Zaninovich, President and Brian Crettol, Sales Manager from Jasmine Vineyards and Tate Mathison, Sales, Dave Martin, Export Sales Manager and Bill Young, Export Sales from Stemilt Growers.

“The best way for Lantao to develop relationships with our shippers and to help them learn the standards for fruit required by the market is to have them visit our offices and markets in China”, said John Wang, President of Lantao. “Lantao has offices in 5 Chinese cities, Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanyang and Zhengzhou, and each city is as different as New York is from Los Angeles or Chicago.”

One of the highlights of the trip was visiting the recently opened and the largest food market in all of Asia. The new market is located in the city of Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan Province and is managed by Wanbang International Agricultural Products Logistics Co. Ltd. (Wanbang).

Mr. Bi Xueping, Director of Wanbang, briefed the delegation about the operations of the new market. “Wanbang will invest a total of RMB 9 billion ($1.40 billion) to build a logistics and trading project for agricultural products in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan.” said Mr. Bi. “The entire projected is slated for completion in 2015 and will encompass over 100,000 employees, 1,000 vendors with the capacity to move over 400 containers of food products per day.”

This first phase for wholesale fruits and vegetables just opened in January 2012. The second phase will focus on grains, edible oils, meat and seafood. The facility includes storage facilities, a quality inspection facility and research institute as well as housing and sits on an area of 5,300 mu (875 acres or 3.53 sq. Kilometers).
Jim Provost, President of I Love Produce, has been involved with importing garlic and organic foods from China for ten-years. “We are the only team importing fruit into mainland China with partners in both mainland China and North America.” Provost said. “I Love Produce helps Lantao with suppliers in the United States, and I am proud to be helping farmers in both China and the United States. China is growing as an import market and we are now exporting more produce to China by volume and dollars than what we are importing.”

Henan is the 5th largest provincial economy of China and the largest among inland provinces. It is also the third most populous province with a population of over 94 million. If it were a country by itself, Henan would be the 12th most populous country in the world, behind Mexico and ahead of the Philippines.

Henan’s neighboring provinces are Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, and Hubei. Combined, there is a potential to reach 600 million consumers from the Henan central distribution point.

Zhengzhou is part of a traditional transport artery where the north-south Beijing-Guangzhou railway and the east-west Lanzhou-Lianyungang railway cross. Nearly all trains to Beijing, Shanghai and Xi'an pass through Zhengzhou.

“Zhengzhou is my hometown” John Wang explained. “I have very deep roots in this area, and that was my original reason for opening a Lantao office here. When people think of China’s import markets, they usually think about the big coastal cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. We purchased 3 stalls in the new market because with the potential for growth in Central China this market will be just as important as the coastal areas in the future.”

In addition to the new market, the delegation also visited the fruit import markets in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Since it was the first time to Beijing for most of the group, a tour of the Great Wall of China was included. Many Chinese people know a very famous saying from Chairman Mao that was inscribed in the Wall in 1935.

It says:

Mao’s poem implies that one is not a hero unless he has climbed the Great Wall. The group plans on making our use of their new hero status in the produce industry in 2012!

Data from The State of China Atlas (2009)

Source: I Love Produce, LLC