Tech companies are attempting to bridge the gap between farm and table in order to provide healthy (accountable, more so) foods amid a long history of food safety mishaps in China.
Urbanization inherently widens the gap between rural communities and cities: As people concentrate around urban centers, they become geographically and personally less attune to the “food chain,” or the network of processes/infrastructures/intermediaries between farm and purchase. Rapid urbanization coupled with the rapid mechanization of agriculture has magnified this gap in China.
Tech companies are replacing traditional food safety measures (inspections, lab testing, increased enforcement procedures) with phone apps capable of geo-tracking produce/products or chopsticks that can check food for toxic “gutter oil.” The initiatives are led by tech-giants Alibaba and Baidu, respectively.
Chinese are consuming more calories per capita than ever in recent history. Skyrocketing diabetes and obesity rates are recent phenomena and can be directly attributed to changing diet. The rise of food-conscious technologies indicate Chinese are becoming increasingly aware of diet. With strict single-child laws, the longevity of young Chinese is imperative to the longevity of the economy. A healthier Chinese population equals a longer-living and more productive workforce.
The overlap of the tech space and agriculture also has modernizing implications. Tech giants, such as Alibaba, have the capital structures and innovative teams to reinvigorate China’s massive and problematic food supply system. Ultimately, the “food chain” in China today reveals an interesting crossroads of old and new as new Chinese rekindle awareness of an agricultural past.