As a famous frozen food enterprise in the Pearl River Delta and even southern China, Guangzhou Wakan Trading Co., Ltd. is a well-deserved leader in the industry. Since its establishment nearly 20 years ago, it has been adhering to the principles of "integrity" and "quality service", which has won it many awards, honors and high reputation in the imported food industry.
In recent years, there has been a "tide of transformation" in the industry. As a leader in the industry, Wakan is no longer satisfied with the previous simple mode of operation. It hopes to further create a diversified service platform. Zheng Weisheng, chairman of the company, told us in an interview that "customization" may be the main direction of development in the next two or three years.
F2C: Wakan has been in the industry for 20 years. What countries do you mainly import from? And what kinds of food are imported?
At present, we mainly import food from Canada, the United States, Australia, Italy, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. We import pork and ribs from Spain, desserts (Macarons, etc.) from France, pasta and ice cream from Italy, dairy products (beef tallow, etc.) from New Zealand, seafood and potato products from the United States, seafood (lobsters, etc.) from Canada, and crabs from Russia, etc. Food in every country has its own characteristics. We import foods that meet our need.
In terms of food categories, North America has a wide variety of foods. We prefer to import seafood, potatoes, etc. from North America. The number of food categories we import from other countries is relatively small. We import beef from Australia, lobster from Myanmar, and also some products from Senegal. Now, we are preparing to import different parts of beef from South America. Generally speaking, we import most of our food categories from North America, and much fewer kinds of products from other countries.
F2C: What is the procedure or standard of how you select products?
When we select products, we prefer those with safety certificates and competitive price which meet the needs of the Chinese people. Some products are very good, but the Chinese consumers do not accept them. For example, there are hundreds of thousands of cheeses in the world, but only a few of them are popular in China. So we need to select suitable products. We prefer basis products, for example, seafood, which can be enjoyed by people of various religious beliefs except for vegetarians. For meats like port, mutton and beef, we will select those which are considered the best in a country. For example, we import big chunks of pork from America. In Spain, Iberian pigs are not sold as a whole, because the legs will be used for making hams, so we import other parts like bones and pork belly. From Germany, we will import pork shank.
F2C: What are the main markets of Wakan?
Our main market is southern China, especially the Pearl River Delta region. We have several customers from Hong Kong and Macao. Our customers are mainly catering enterprises. The business will continue to expand as our customers increase, but the focus is still on the Pearl River Delta, the Greater Bay Area and Southern China.
F2C: What is the future direction of Wakan?
Now we haven't done food processing work, but we have the plan for it in the form of a central kitchen. We will upgrade the ingredients and processing. For example, We now wash and cut the vegetables and fruits, but in the future, we'll probably develop dishes and cook the food. We use a lot of new technology, such as heating and safe distribution techniques, to provide customers with “customized” catering service. What kind of nutritional meals do students need? What kind of nutritional meals different patients, for example diabetic patients and postoperative patients need? We have a plan to study those questions in depth. We will study the protein and calory needs of women who are on diet or love workout, and design menus for them accordingly. In fact, it is hard to make good “customized” products, as only after we have a thorough understanding of all the ingredients and their organizational system can we provide well-designed meals. Secondly, we need to consider when a product is the most competitive. Storage, monitoring and connection are also very important. A little mistake in one link will greatly affect other links.
The company will build a modern high-end food supply chain platform, which will cover many not only nutritious but also delicious products. Nutrition and taste are a contradiction sometimes. For food to be both nutritious and delicious, quality ingredients and good design are required. Additionally, we need to consider competitiveness and safety. A complete circle now has been established. Once the platform is built, we will put in other products like red wine, fruit juice and tea. Our existing food safety and tracing systems will also serve users of the platform.
Our customers only need to focus on operation and do not need to think too much about back-end service and menu development. We can also do marketing together with them. It has been almost 20 years since Wakan was established. We have a good foundation, high reputation and loyal customers who are willing to grow with us. We do not sell sham products or those without certificates. In 2009, we were selected as a supplier for the Asian Games. In fact, we were the best among all the food suppliers. All our products have the full set of documents, which is beyond the capacity of many food suppliers.
F2C: What do you think is the biggest obstacle for the development of Wakan? How to overcome it?
We might say that capital is the biggest problem. We plan to go public and are preparing for it now. We need to integrate huge resources, especially national resources, which requires financial support. Once going public, the company will be greatly developed. There are not many companies in China specializing in modern supply chain. The situation is different abroad. Enterprises need to be normalized, and going public is the best way to achieve it.
We are now on a steady course, preferring to walk slowly but steadily, because we have a lot of customers who trust us and are constantly pushing us forward. At present, the conditions for our listing are not mature. First, the stock market is depressed. Second, China Securities Regulatory Commission has higher requirements for listing than before. Third, now is not a good time for fund-raising through listing. In the next two or three years, we will strive to meet the requirements for listing. In the process, we will integrate a lot of resources，mainly complementary resources, and achieve resource sharing. We can work with our partners on some projects and share the profit. They are also encouraged to become a shareholder of our company if they are willing to grow with us. Another way of cooperation is we, as a platform, work with another platform to achieve win-win results. All the above modes are workable. We have technology, markets and projects. What we need is capital, equipment, etc.
F2C: As a vice president of Guangdong Imported Food Association, what are Wakan’s expectations or suggestions for the future development of the association?
Guangdong Imported Food Association should provide its members with information on imported food. It also needs to establish authority in the market and play the role of a referee, especially in cracking down on fake food products. Additionally, we also hope that the association can play a coordinating role in the competition among its members. Competition is very common for those engaged in business of fast-moving consumer goods, so the association needs to provide its members with timely product information to reduce malignant competition. There are so many products on the market. Each product needs to have its own merits. Each member should have their own advantages. Resources, supply chains, etc. can be shared. The association should strive for more benefits and resources for its members.