You've probably heard of some of the food safety scandals that have rocked China in recent years: tainted milk, recycled cooking oil, toxic pesticides. But now there's one company in Beijing that's using hi-tech growing techniques to bring clean, pesticide-free veggies to the market.
Chinese people have a hard time trusting the safety of their food these days, and produce is no exception. Many who have the means are willing to pay a lot more for produce that they can be sure is free of harmful pesticides and toxins.
Enter Kingpeng Plant Factory. They specialize in hi-tech growing methods for producing high-end vegetables. Plants in the Beijing-based factory's artificial light room are grown in a liquid nutrient solution and fans are installed on the shelves, programmed to imitate different wind speeds according to each stage of the plant's development.
Vegetables such as lettuce and bok choy are grown under banks of light emitting diodes—LEDs—which factory operators say are carefully designed to optimize growth and minimize costs.
But all of the money that goes into the production is reflected in the high price of the finished product. A Kingpeng lettuce, for example, costs about 5 times what you'd pay for a conventionally grown lettuce.
So who can afford these super veggies?
Beijing Xi San Qi bio-restaurant is a typical customer—high-end restaurants and hotels that use quality produce to attract wealthy, health conscious patrons.
[Liu Xiaohui, Manager, Beijing Xi San Qi]:
"I think the vegetables produced by Kingpeng Plant Factory have a good market future because in big cities like Beijing, people can afford to buy vegetables which are free of contamination and pesticides, even if they are more expensive than ordinary ones. More and more Chinese people will accept food that is good for their health."
Kingpeng is still working on lowering production costs, presumably to make their products more affordable and accessible to a larger market.