Xinfadi: a place of opportunity
Written by Yin Xiuqi, narrated by Yang Yong.
Produce traded at the Xinfadi market in southern Beijing fills about four fifths of the Chinese capital’s total demand for agricultural products.
Each day, the fruits and vegetables traded through it amount to 38-thousand tons. In others words, each Beijing resident consumes almost two kilograms of them on average.
These statistics are provided by the Xinfadi Agricultural Products Wholesale Market Company, which operates as the regulator of thousands of small wholesalers doing business in the huge market.
The source regions of Xinfadi’s fruits and vegetables are across the country, mainly Hebei and Shandong provinces in north and east China as well as Hainan and Guangdong provinces in the south.
The Xinfadi produce market dates back to 1988, ten years after China began its market-oriented reforms and opening-up, diverging from a planned economic system.
At the time, local officials designated one hectare of the Xinfadi village in the southern suburb of Beijing as a marketplace for private vegetable traders.
The traders had already gathered there to tap into the initial market opportunities created by the country’s reforms and opening-up.
Since then, the Xinfadi market has ballooned, benefiting both from the rapid growth of the economy of the country and the urban development of Beijing itself.
At its peak in the first decade of the 21st century, the market teemed with more than ten thousand private wholesalers, trading all kinds of agro-products from around the country.
The southern gate of the Xinfadi wholesale produce market of Beijing. [Photo: Chinaplus]
In what the regulator of the market says to better serve the wholesalers, the booming market has been undergoing a facelift in recent years and part of its functions moved to the neighboring Hebei Province.
Zhang Yuelin is general manager of the Xinfadi Agricultural Products Wholesale Market Company, which also acts as the regulator of the traders operating at the marketplace.
Zhang Yuelin says new modern buildings are being built to accommodate the small wholesalers, who are mostly operating outdoors.
He adds that a huge permanent building for vegetable trading is about to be finished and will be put into use in 2020.
Zhang says in a matter of years, all trading activities will be moved indoors.
Some 40 percent of the market’s total 112 hectares will be built with multi-storey buildings, into which huge lorries can drive to unload the goods. The rest of the land will be planted with grass and trees according to Zhang.
Meanwhile, the market regulator has arranged many of its wholesalers to move to Hebei Province, Beijing’s southern neighbor. The Hebei branch of the market is about an hour and a half’s drive from Beijing.
Put into operations four years ago, the Hebei market covers nearly 140 hectares of land, much larger than the Beijing market. Four in five of the wholesalers of the Hebei market have relocated from Beijing.
As a result, the number of wholesalers in the original Xinfadi market declined from a peak of 10 thousand to the current four thousand.
Calling the small wholesalers still in the Beijing market his customers, Zhang Yuelin says his company will come up with better service while maintaining regulation on their business behavior.
As one example of the support, Zhang says his company offers 10 to 20 percent off the rent for selected well-behaved wholesalers each year.
Meanwhile, e-commerce is another priority for the Beijing market.
“Since 2013, e-commerce companies have opened branches at Xinfadi to do business. I think e-commerce is a key growing point for the development of our produce market,” says Zhang.
Thanks in part to the growing e-commerce, almost 17 million tons of various kinds of farm products were traded at the Beijing market in 2018.
The trade volume was worth 108 billion yuan or 15 billion US dollars, comprising nearly four percent of the total GDP of the Chinese capital of the same year.