Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Enters Food Industry With New Venture

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News in brief:
- Alibaba’s founder, Jack Ma, ventures into the food industry with a company dabling in pre-packaged food, imports, and exports.
– The billionaire holds a 99.9% ownership stake in the venture and could explore fresh produce sales leveraging on his e-commerce expertise.

Renowned tech billionaire and founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, has embarked on a new venture, establishing a company called ‘Hangzhou Ma’s Kitchen Food‘ in his hometown of Hangzhou, China.

The company’s focus lies in the realm of pre-packaged food, imports, exports, and the sale of edible agricultural products, according to a release by China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System.

‘Ma’s Kitchen’ is wholly owned by Hangzhou Dajingtou No. 22 Arts and Culture. It has a registered capital of 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) and is a corporate entity in which Jack Ma holds a 99.9% ownership stake.

While the company has yet to divulge details about its specific business model or product offerings, Ma’s involvement has sparked speculation that he may be capitalising on the burgeoning ready-made meal market in China.

According to Euromonitor International, the Chinese market for ready-to-eat meals witnessed a surge of 28% from 2018 to 2021 and reached a staggering value of 71.1 billion yuan ($9.9 billion).

Similarly, the demand for meal kits – food boxes requiring minimal preparation – has nearly tripled. It escalated from 10.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in 2018 to 29.1 billion yuan ($4 billion) in 2022, according to Euromonitor data.

The rising popularity of pre-packaged meals in China is a combination of various factors, according to analysts. These include convenience and accessibility, trading down from dining out, variety and time constraints.

Furthermore, there are speculations that Ma’s venture could also explore the realm of fresh produce sales. It would leverage his expertise in e-commerce to cater to the growing demand for high-quality, reasonably priced fresh food options.

Ma’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor comes at a time when investors are keenly observing his business interests. Last week, reports emerged about him postponing plans to sell off hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Alibaba shares because a decline in the company’s stock.

Despite the setback, Ma’s foray into the food industry signals his continued entrepreneurial spirit. It also harps on his potential to reshape the landscape of the food industry in China.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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