The Singapore company Hu Lee, which supplies fruits and vegetables to wholesalers, restaurant agents and retailers from its base at Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre decided to seek partners for contract farming in the 1990s, and began investing in farms abroad in 2005.
Today, it has stakes in four farms in China – in Qingdao, Kunming, Guangdong and Hubei. It also has contract farming arrangements in about eight Chinese provinces.
Altogether, the firm jointly owns and manages close to 350 hectares of vegetable farms and a 266-ha fruit farm in Qingdao that has achieved the Good Agricultural Practice standard.
Jerry Tan, who is the managing director of Hu Lee, said the idea is to have as many sources as possible. "We used to be just a trading company," says Mr Tan. "Now we have moved to become a vertically integrated company."
Asia Business One reports Jerry Tan said, "And for those products that we do not grow, we have partners we can call on to import or buy on our behalf to bring to Singapore. We want to build a brand for Asian leafy vegetables in Singapore and grow it regionally. We already sell some of our vegetables at Jusco in Qingdao, unbranded, and at the same price you see in Singapore. We are amazed by the Chinese people’s spending power."