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"Hu: "we help growers to cut back on losses and increase crop returns"

China banana ripening rooms 'next step' for AiControl

AiControl has spent the last five years developing banana ripening room solutions for the Chinese market. The company has witnessed demand growing and sees that its customers, growers and retailers, are searching for ways to invest in the supply chain to improve the quality, ripeness and shelf-life of their products.

AiControl is investing to improve the quality of banana ripening rooms in China. The company is the exclusive representative of Interko

So AiControl is about to invest in a project to develop and install banana ripening rooms in China's East coast cities. “We have been working to develop a plan to build banana ripening rooms in Shanghai and Beijing. We are currently talking to a number of venture capital funds to get a financial injection in the project. Next year we want to start developing the ripening rooms. It is easy to find cold storage rooms for bananas, but these are often not professional. Transport of bananas from growers in the South of China to customers in the North is done by regular transport, not by cold chain. The quality of the goods deteriorates rapidly after harvest. Another problem is that, because there are no adequate storage solutions, farmers are forced to sell their full crop straight after harvesting. This leads to short periods of oversupply on the market, sinking prices. We want to empower growers, improve the quality of bananas and supply ripe, yellow, bananas,” said Michael Hu of AiControl.

The team of Tian Di Ren at the nursery of the company

“Our customers are supermarkets and banana growers. Supermarkets import bananas from the Philippines and use bananas ripening rooms to be able to serve them yellow and ripe. We want to enable banana growers so that in the future they can directly deal with supermarkets. Now, often, the grower cannot do this. Usually the grower sells raw bananas to trade companies or packing companies. Trade companies own ripening rooms and can supply yellow bananas to supermarkets.”

“For the farmer, this is an interesting proposal. It empowers them to conduct business directly with their end customers and they will be able to make more money. Now it is difficult for farmers that deal with trading companies to get a good price for their goods.”

Michael Hu of AiControl

Hainan is a big banana producing province. One of the biggest banana planters is called Tian Di Ren, which is a stock market registered company. Tian Di Ren produces 160,000 tons of bananas per year. “We are currently in talks with Tian Di Ren. We want to implement a plan that we can transport green, raw bananas to our ripening rooms in big city centres. After ripening we can then supply the bananas to supermarkets. Our service will increase the return Tian Di Ren can receive for its crop.”

“Fruit chain Bai Guo Yuan expressed an interest in working with us. Second step would be to help supermarkets improve the quality of their yellow bananas. As such we want to propel banana sales.”

'Rent a machine' effective new market model

“Our other core product is the design and production of pre-cooling equipment, such as vacuum coolers and hydro coolers. Pre-cooling is used by farmers to cool down the harvested crop quickly. After pre-cooling the vegetables can be placed in cold storage or sent by cold chain transport. This is an effective way to keep the product fresh and increase its shelf-life.”

“Farmers are often hesitant to invest in new technology. Either the investment is considered too high, or they are weary about the effectiveness of the new equipment. To tackle this problem, we launched a new approach to market. We are now renting out parts of our machine fleet. Our systems combat product losses and extend shelf-life. This increases the return farmers can receive. With this increase return farmers can justify the investment in our machines.”

“Some crops have short harvest periods, such as a month. When this is the case, it might not be worthwhile for a farmer to buy and install a machine. Renting one for a shorter period is an attractive alternative to this problem. We can move our machines from the South to the Middle to the North of China in accordance with the seasons. In addition, when farmers are using our systems they can see what benefits they get from them. Some of the farming companies or cooperatives are very rich organisations. However, they might doubt or not understand the advantages we can provide. That is a reason why they do not want to invest money. If they think that the solution you can provide is worthwhile then they are willing to invest the money”.

“This year we helped a dragon fruit farmer. With our system, the company could increase the shelf-life of their products from 2 to 4 weeks. This is a huge competitive advantage for the farmer, because it enables him to beat the supply of other farmers. Now the farmer is very grateful for using our product. After success, he will, next season, buy more of our product”.

“We will keep updating our business plans and approach to the market. Our core idea is to help farmers and our customers to sell their products easier and decrease their losses. This is our ambition.”

For more information:

Michael Hu, General Manager
Aicontrol Automatic Equipment
AiFruit Technology for Agriculture
Contact numbers: +86 21 6530 7077+86 21 6530 7077 & +86 189 1765 0000+86 189 1765 0000

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