CHINA, Hong Kong. The world’s largest pork company WH Group Ltd announced that its US subsidiary, Smithfield Foods will for the first time sell its US-produced pork online in China via online retailer JD.com Inc.
The move follows other international food companies that are looking to boost sales in the world’s top pork consumer through its vast e-commerce market, with a growing middle class developing a taste for branded and imported meat products.
The fresh food division of JD.com, JD Fresh, will be the online sales platform for Smithfield’s pork products in China, according to an agreement signed by Smithfield, Henan Shuanghui Investment and Development Co, which is also owned by the WH Group, and JD.com. Smithfield said Shuanghui, Asia’s largest animal protein company, would be its domestic agent for the venture. The products sold on JD will include bone-in cuts and variety meats, with a focus on small packaged frozen products, which are some of the types in highest demand in China. The parties will also cooperate on areas such as data and cold chain logistics.
WH Group bought Smithfield in 2013 in a $4.7 bn. deal aimed at tapping the massive supplies of US meat for export to China.
JD Fresh is the largest direct sales fresh food platform in China, as well as the biggest online pork retail market in the country. In the first half of 2017, gross merchandise volume (GMV) for from direct sales of meats on JD increased more than 780% year-on-year, according to the company’s statement. JD.com’s meat sales have rocketed in recent years, reaching the hundreds of millions of yuan in 2016, with imported meat accounting for more than a third of its total sale of meat.