The Global CEO Entrepreneur Agribusiness Symposium Program hosted by the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management and the CHIC Knowledge Center of Excellence (CKCE) held November 1-3, 2013 at the CHIC Group’s Jiading Headquarters attracted more than 80 CEOs, entrepreneurs and agribusiness owners from China and internationally.
Participants at the three-day program, Growing Agribusiness in China: Scaling Up and Staying Fresh, included members of major companies including Joyvio of Legend Holdings, Xinjiang Qinghe Group, Inner Mongolia Dairy United, Beijing Organic and Beyond Corporation (OABC), FMC Group, Dupont Pioneer and Ecom Group. In addition, Mr. Liu Xia, the vice mayor of Wuxi City, sponsored 28 agribusiness entrepreneurs from across the Wuxi Province to attend.
“China’s entire ag exports to the U.S. are equivalent to 2/3 of the value of one U.S. commodity sold to China (soybeans).”
- Colin Carter, UC Davis Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics
The Local and Global Agricultural Landscape
An internationally renowned agriculture specialist, UC Davis Professor of Agricultural Economics Colin Carter said that although Chinese agriculture is developing very fast, the urban-rural income gap, scattered regions and inferior efficiencies have lead to the disintegration of the agricultural sector’s structure. To illustrate his point, he said the sum total of China’s agricultural exports to the U.S. represents only two-thirds of the value of just one commodity that the U.S. sells to China – soybeans. He sees opportunity in this challenge as more and more rural Chinese will go to the cities and customers will pay more attention to food safety, which, he said, bodes well for the shift to industrial-scale farming in China.
“Through challenges and changes, the Earthbound Farms’ brand’s sales were not affected, and to the contrary, even achieved further business growth as safety systems improved and were implemented.”
– Charles Sweat, President and CEO, Earthbound Farm
The Agribusiness Challenge: Scaling Your Business, Food Safety, Organic Farming, and Attracting & Retaining Talent
Mr. Charles Sweat, the President and CEO of Earthbound Farms (EBF) explained how his company became a world-renowned organic powerhouse. Earthbound Farms started from humble beginnings with a 2 acre family-owned farm and became America’s largest producer of organic food with $500 million in sales per year.
“To eliminate food safety issues, China needs agribusiness entrepreneurs. Future Chinese farmers must learn and apply technologies to realize lean agriculture, increase agriculture’s total factor productivity, achieve value-added and differentiated products and services and meet the demands of consumers.”
- Edward Zhu, Founder and CEO of CHIC Group
Learning from U.S. Agriculture and Exploring Strategies for Chinese Agribusiness
Mr. Edward Zhu introduced the strategy of Chinese agribusiness under today’s economic and social conditions. He maintained that planning the strategy for Chinese agribusiness should focus on sustainable and strategic differentiation, including marketing, production, service and business model strategies, as well as enterprise development and business growth strategies. He hoped this symposium would add to participants’ knowledge and experience of agribusiness.
Tony’s Organic Farm – A Successful Organic Business in China
Tony Zhang, Founder and CEO of Tony’s Organic Farm, shared the story of how they grew from one farm in 2006 to nine farms today, which is now one of the largest organic farms specializing in organic vegetables with a planting area of more than 20,000 mu.
Tony’s Organic Farm’s membership marketing model has been an innovative and successful sales channel, and they have also created an online sales presence to help grow their business.
“The best way to eliminate the potential for food safety crises is to gain control over your supply chain, eliminating the number of middlemen between China’s fragmented farm base and the end consumer.” - Brady Sidwell, VP Corporate Development and Strategy for OSI Group
Strategy and Investing
Mr. Brady Sidwell, the Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy for the OSI Group and Mr. Francisco Villazon, Asia-Pacific Managing Director of Ecom Agroindustrial Corporation Ltd., shared their insights about successful execution of a strategic plan and how to identify potential sources and practical techniques for securing capital.
“In the future, more and more rural people will go to the cities and customers will pay more attention to food safety and quality. Therefore, the ongoing direction of Chinese agriculture can only be in industrial-scale farming.”
- Keith Schneller, Director USDA
China and US Agribusiness Today
Keith Schneller, the Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Office in Shanghai, examined the mutual points of interest between U.S. and China agribusiness. He said China should take more steps to help Chinese agribusiness companies to develop exports and build brands.
This ground breaking program is aimed at CEOs and Business Owners of food/agribusiness companies in China including, but not limited to, the produce, dairy, and pork sectors, and distributors, grocery store chain operators, fertilizer companies, and marketing organizations that serve the food/agribusiness market in China.
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