Food safety and poverty alleviation are hot topics in the Chinese media so Alibaba’s rival JD.com has hit the public relations jackpot by combining the two in a programme that is part philanthropy and part profit.
The e-commerce giant has started a scheme known as Jindong’s Running Chickens (JD stands for Jingdong) in an impoverished part of Wuyi County in Hebei province. It’s working with 700 farming households that keep chickens, with the aim of helping them to sell free-range poultry to more affluent urban consumers.
There is a tech element too with each chicken fitted with a special pedometer that signals when the bird has taken a million steps and thus becomes eligible for sale.
After its millionth step the chicken is sold for up to Rmb188 ($27.51) on JD.com which takes the order online and uses its cold chain distribution network to get the bird to the purchaser.
From the farmer’s point of view, this end-to-end process ensures they get a much higher income from each bird reared than if they sold in local markets. The scheme has won plaudits from consumers too, though this being China, there are plenty of sceptics as well. Sohu Finance wonders if there might be a scandal down the road when some of the wilier farmers work out how to scam JD.com’s poultry pedometers and fake the million steps. But for the moment city-dwellers keen to dine on a truly free range chicken are delighted with JD.com’s innovative approach.