Pinduoduo Leads Farm-to-Table Movement in China

Nothing is more satisfying than biting into a freshly picked tomato straight off the vine. With the farm-to-table movement trending more and more around the world, consumers are increasingly opting for fresh, local, and factory-free farmed produce. According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2015 survey, one in five consumers were willing to pay more for local food, while 41% admitted that the availability of locally sourced ingredients influences their dining decisions.

One of China’s leading interactive e-commerce platforms Pinduoduo (PDD) has capitalized on new opportunities to source fresh farm produce and deliver it to consumers. In August 2020, PDD responded to the pandemic by launching a next-day delivery service called Duo Duo Grocery, enabling consumers to receive farm-produced products right away. Duo Duo Grocery leveraged its connection with 12 million farmers and a large consumer base of 731 million people to take the lead in China’s farm-to-table movement.

Choosing from a curated selection of fresh vegetables sourced from local farms, consumers place their orders via PDD’s mobile app before 11 p.m. in order to pick up their order at a nearby collection spot after 4 p.m. the following day. Orders are processed every night, allowing the freshly harvested products to be sent from local farms to sorting stations, where individual orders are packed and transported to local collection spots.

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By matching local demand directly with agricultural supply, PDD allows farmers to assume new roles beyond wholesalers. Eventually, the real-time matching of demand and supply will reduce food wastage and guarantee the quality of products.

In addition, the self-collection model also reduces logistics costs. As the “last mile” delivery to door can account for 30% of the total delivery cost, this model will drive down overall expenses and improve couriers’ efficiency.

“We’ve seen the farm-to-table trend become a widespread movement by using technology to match small producers with consumers,” said Andre Zhu, senior vice president of PDD. “Shortening the time between harvesting and cooking ensures the freshness and the safety of the products.”

According to domestic media, analysts estimated that the country’s online grocery market may be worth more than $120 billion by 2023. “With sufficient demand, the unit economic cost of farm-to-table delivery will decrease over time,” said Lillian Li, a Beijing-based technology analyst. “This movement will invite more discussions on whether consumers will choose seasonal products over a variety of non-seasonal products.”