Chinese farmers should view product promotion through the lens of “Internet Plus," said an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on April 12.
“Innovation has always been key in brand-building. We have long passed the time where farmers only toiled on their land. In our era, ‘Internet Plus’ must be highlighted. China is the world’s largest consumer of meat and crops, with an annual consumption of 50 kilograms and 450 kilograms per capita respectively. It is time that we promote our brand overseas,” said Song Chengmin, a macroeconomic management official with the NDRC, at a conference on agricultural branding in Linyi, Shandong province.
The conference was held by the Linyi government and the People’s Tribune on April 12. Its theme was the proposal made by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2015 to strengthen brand-building for agricultural products.
Hu Xiaoyun, director of the China Academy for Rural Development at Zhejiang University, pointed out that it remains difficult to sell many Chinese agricultural products at high prices, even though they are equal in quality to their overseas counterparts.
“Even at some high-end venues in China, we are served foreign tea instead [of Chinese tea]. This is heartbreaking because tea originated in China and we see a huge amount of tea production every year,” Hu said.
In fact, China is not short of agricultural brands, but is enmeshed in an age of “wilderness,” according to Dang Guoying, a researcher with the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Dang told reporters on the sidelines of the conference that a large crowd of small Chinese brands cannot win out against Western giants. To spur domestic agricultural development, authorities should encourage brand-building rather than offering blueprints.
“On top of the agenda is our mission to find a carrier to hold the brand. It is usually giant agricultural cooperatives that do this job in the West. There are reportedly up to 1 million co-ops in China, which is in fact bad for brand-building,” Dang explained. Echoing the NDRC official, Dang also agreed that access to the internet could bring down the cost of agriculture.
“With the help of the internet, some less developed regions have become known in other regions, and business deals have been made. This pattern could promote basic infrastructure construction,” Dang said, adding that a beneficial cycle could be perpetuated in rural areas to boost sales as well as brand-building.