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Web Site on Food Safety Launched in China

23 February 2009

CHINA - A new web site has been set up to cover food safety issues in Chinese.

Official sources say that faced with a food industry hit by health scares, leading Chinese information and game portal Netease.com is going the whole hog - by raising pigs and documenting the porkers' journey from farm to fork for all the online world to see.

The IT firm will start by rearing up to 10,000 swine in farms in Zhejiang province, where the animals will be raised in a "pastoral environment and fed strictly on an organic diet", Netease founder and CEO, William Ding said.

The first batch of pigs will reportedly be made up of select black hogs from Japan's Kagoshima prefecture, where swine are highly prized for their quality. Consumers will be able to track the lives of the pigs online, including what they eat and when they relieve themselves, Netease said. Pig farmers will also be able to exchange breeding tips, it said.

Mr Ding, 38, a self-proclaimed gourmet, said concerns over the country's food safety and quality were the main motivations behind the move.

"We don't expect to make much money from this," Ding said. "But we are hoping to explore a new business model that provides safe, high-quality food while creating job opportunities in rural areas." Details of the plan will be disclosed in April, he said.

Mr Ding said he has also established a team inside the company to work on the pig farm and will expand it through a chain-store model if business is successful.

"The earlier tainted milk incident in China has exposed problems in food quality control and supervision system," a member of Netease's new "pig raising" team is quoted as saying. "We think the use of the Internet, which is known for its openness and transparency, could play an important role in helping the industry improve."

China is the world's largest pork producer and consumes about half of the world's pork production. But pork supply in the country in the past two years has been disrupted by the outbreak of blue ear disease, which mostly strikes breeding sows and piglets, and natural disasters including the snowstorm in South China and the Sichuan earthquake in May last year.

Feng Yonghui, an independent industry analyst, said in his latest report that although the price of pork in China saw a significant increase in 2007 and early 2008, profits from pig farming have declined since late last year as the government raised subsidies to boost supplies.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report by clicking here.

ThePoultrySite News Desk



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