Leading Chinese importer Yidu launched its new packing and distribution facility in Zhengzhou Airport for processing retail packs on 1 November, and it has got off to a busy start handling charter air shipments of Chilean cherries.
The facility is part of a new one-stop cold chain logistics project at central China's Zhengzhou Airport, which is designed to become a global food import and export hub.
The Yidu-Zhengzhou Airport Cold Chain Co is an ambitious project covering a total area of 230,000m2. Most of this area is taken up by a cargo and logistics airport terminal for charter flights to take off and land, but the project also includes areas for unloading and inspection; quarantine and sampling; forced-air cooling; storage; blueberry and cherry packing; temperature-controlled dispatch; and express shipping and distribution. The new processing zone aims to capitalise on Zhengzhou’s transport links and location to become a distribution hub for central China.
The project is jointly funded by Henan Province Airport Construction Group. Dalian Port Co and Dalian Yidu Group.
For Yidu, which already has large-scale distribution facilities in the north of China – in Shenyang and Dalian – the opening of the Zhengzhou operation is a key strategic move in its goal to develop a national cold chain network.
“Zhengzhou is located right in the middle of China, which makes it a very important hub for logistics, including land, air and rail,” the company’s R&D engineer Kevin Wang says. “As part of Yidu’s cold chain service, Zhenghou’s facility aims to connect all other major cities and complete the map.”
But Yidu’s packing and distribution facility also beefs up its services to the retail trade in China, with customised packaging for e-commerce companies and supermarket retail customers. “Over the past 20 years, wholesale has been the core business for Yidu, but the management team does not want to give up the retail market since we have such good resources,” explains Wang. “In order to satisfy the retail market needs, we must expand our processing capacity, and we’ll meet this target with the Zhengzhou facility.”
Yidu launched its own e-commerce brand Truenjoy last year, which markets smaller packages of fruit directly to clients via WeChat as well as supplying other e-commerce companies such as JD.com.
Following its official opening at the beginning of November, Yidu’s packing facility has been busy processing charter shipments of Chilean cherries for retail customers.
Together with China Eastern Airlines, Yidu helped to pioneer charter air shipments of cherries from Chile to China, handling the first shipment in 2013. Wang tells Asiafruit the company is on course to handle around 70 charter shipments this season, working with Atlas Air and other carriers. "Each charter is carrying around 100-120 tonnes of cherries and blueberries," says Wang. “This roughly amounts to one or two charters everyday until 10 December."
Covering an area of 2,160m2, the new packing operation is fitted out with automated sorting technology and packing lines to process fruit in customised retail-ready formats. “Currently, we have seven processing lines, including two packing lines, four manual sorting lines and one automated sorting line,” says Wang. “The fruit is delivered by air to Zhengzhou airport and then we re-pack into smaller packs with our brand on.”
Currently, he estimates that around 70 per cent of the packaged fruit is sent to supermarkets, with the remaining 30 per cent sent going into e-commerce channels.
Yidu plans to develop more facilities with similar capabilities in the future, with the next ones planned for Guangzhou and Chongqing, Wang says.