Pinduoduo’s board of directors has a new face

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On August 29, when Pinduoduo released its second quarterly report, it also announced a personnel change with immediate effect: the appointment of Professor Ivonne Rietjens, director of the Department of Toxicology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, as Pinduoduo’s seventh director.

“Ritkins has been working in the field of food safety for decades, and her joining will inject us with rich professional experience in the field of food technology and global cutting-edge scientific research trends.” Chen Lei, chairman and co-CEO of Pinduoduo, said at the financial report.

Since the launch of the “10 billion agricultural research” project in 2021, Pinduoduo has continued to expand the scope of investment in the agricultural field, and regards it as the company’s core strategy. Construction of supply chain systems such as warehousing and distribution.

At the financial report meeting, Chen Lei emphasized to the analysts attending the meeting, “Pinduoduo started from agriculture, and our development is closely related to the upward movement of agricultural products.”

As early as 2020, the transaction volume of Pinduoduo’s agricultural products reached 270 billion yuan, accounting for about 16% of the overall platform. This year, the online retail sales of agricultural products in China were about 575 billion yuan. As Pinduoduo increases its investment in the agricultural sector, the transaction volume of agricultural products on its platform continues to rise, attracting more farmers to join. According to Pinduoduo, there are currently 16 million farmers active on the Pinduoduo platform, an increase of 4 million compared to three years ago.

The hiring of agricultural experts to join the board of directors this time is the latest manifestation of Pinduoduo’s deep cultivation in the agricultural field.

New faces on Pinduoduo’s board

Pinduoduo’s board of directors currently has seven members. In addition to the two co-CEOs Chen Lei and Zhao Jiazhen and Lin Haifeng, vice president of Tencent as a director, there are four independent directors, namely: Lu Qi (founder of Qiji Chuangtan), Gan Bingliang (former HSBC [China] executive), Yeo Eng Boon (former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Singapore) and newcomer Yvonne Ritkins.

According to the website of Pinduoduo Holdings, the three independent directors, Lu Qi, Gan Bingliang and Yang Rongwen, all assumed the company’s operating responsibilities, such as the chairman of the remuneration committee, the chairman of the audit committee, and the chairman of the corporate governance committee. The newly joined Ritkins The professor has no additional arrangements.

Judging from Chen Lei’s speech at the financial report meeting, Pinduoduo hopes that she will play a role in Pinduoduo’s agricultural strategy. “I look forward to making greater contributions to the transformation of agricultural modernization under the guidance of Ritkins.”

Yvonne Ritkins has been a professor at Wageningen University in the Netherlands since 2001. She is currently the head of the Department of Toxicology at the university and has trained more than 90 doctoral students. She is also a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW) and a member of the French Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Her main research direction is food safety. Up to now, she has published hundreds of related papers with 27,000 citations. She is one of the world’s top experts in this field. She and her colleagues launched the “Nutrition and Health: Food Safety” public course on the edX online learning platform jointly established by MIT and Harvard University, sharing knowledge of bacteria, pesticides and health hazards in food to the world.

Ritkins once served as the chairman of the Dutch Society of Toxicology, and has successively served in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the European Food Safety Alliance (SAFE), the Dutch National Institute of Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), the Dutch Health Council, and the American Food Spices Association. He holds important positions with organizations such as the Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA).

According to the introduction on the official website of Wageningen University, Ritkins has carried out joint research with many companies. For example, companies such as Shell, BASF, and Unilever have cooperated in research on alternatives to animal experiments. After becoming a director of Pinduoduo this time, she will also cooperate in the fields of agriculture and food safety.

Previously, it was not uncommon for Chinese commercial companies to cooperate with academic experts to promote the company’s business development. But most companies use it as a means of publicity. For example, Banu Hot Pot emphasizes that its hairy belly uses the “papain tenderization” technology developed by Professor Li Hongjun of Southwest University.

In recent years more and more companies have begun to realize the important role of science in the field of agriculture. In July last year, Juewei Duck Neck cooperated with Shan Yang’s team of the Chinese Academy of Engineering to establish a workstation to conduct joint research in fields such as plant spice extraction and the application of quick-freezing preservation technology, so as to enhance the competitiveness of products from the underlying technology.

But it is rare to have an agricultural expert as a board member like Pinduoduo. Companies are increasingly cooperating with scientists, which to a certain extent also means that these companies are also gradually realizing that to really promote agricultural development or modernization transformation, it is not enough to rely on capital investment, it is a need for technology, talents Long-term projects such as systematic investment.

Agricultural Strategy Expanding to the Whole Industry Chain

In August 2021, half a year after Chen Lei became the chairman of Pinduoduo, he launched the “Ten Billion Agricultural Research Project”, announcing that the profit of 2.4 billion yuan in the previous quarter and the profits that may be made in the next few quarters will be invested first, until 10 billion The total is met.

At that time, Pinduoduo’s focus in the agricultural field was not only the efficient sales of agricultural products through order form on the platform, and commission-free during the “Farm Products Festival”, but also the focus on the field of agricultural technology, and successively launched the “Duoduo Agricultural Research Science and Technology Competition”. Projects such as the “Pinduoduo Cup Science and Technology Courtyard Competition” and the “Global Agricultural Maker” competition aim to combine digital technology with agronomy to make agricultural products have better quality and higher yield at a lower cost.

For example, the award-winning team “Zhiduoberry” in the first “Duoduo Agricultural Research Science and Technology Competition” saw the market prospect of technology productization during the competition, and decided to establish the “Zhiduoberry” company to help small and medium growers improve the cultivation of strawberries, Benefits of blueberries.

It is understood that in Laowo Village, Nujiang Prefecture, Yunnan Province, “Zhiduoberry” has built a digital strawberry production system for the local area, reducing the cost of common labor in the strawberry industry by more than 30%, while increasing strawberry output by 30%.

After years of development, Pinduoduo’s projects in the agricultural field have expanded to a wider range:

  • Continue to promote the agricultural technology competition mentioned above, and donated 100 million yuan to China Agricultural University in May this year to support the school to strengthen basic research and actively promote key agricultural technology research.
  • To launch the “Agricultural Cloud Action”, we must concentrate on investing superior resources to promote the digital transformation of 100 agricultural production belts across the country. According to Pinduoduo’s introduction, in the second quarter of this year, the Pinduoduo team went to major fruit producing areas such as Yuncheng in Shanxi and agricultural belts such as Qianjiang crayfish in Hubei to provide local businesses with special training on e-commerce operations and one-on-one directional operation guidance. It may promote the standardization, branding and digitalization of agricultural specialties.
  • Sales subsidies for agricultural products continue. In the second quarter of this year, Pinduoduo’s 10 billion project continued to increase subsidies for high-quality agricultural products, and the sales of Baibu agricultural products increased by 80% year-on-year. With the support of the zero-commission policy for agricultural products, the number of agriculture-related merchants that settled in tens of billions of subsidies increased by 60% year-on-year.
  • Investment in supply chains such as cold chain logistics, warehousing and distribution of agricultural products continued to advance. The latest trend this year is Pinduoduo’s newly proposed “ten billion ecology”, of which agriculture is the key. “Deep into the supply chain, promote the inclusive technology of manufacturing and agriculture, and hope to connect more high-quality products directly to the national and even global markets.” Zhao Jiazhen said at the second quarter financial report meeting.

Now coupled with the invitation of agronomy experts in the field of food safety as independent directors, Pinduoduo’s investment in the agricultural field has gradually covered most links in the industrial chain.

Pinduoduo’s investment in the agricultural sector will not stop there. “In the future, agriculture will always be one of the focuses of our development.” Chen Lei said at the second-quarter financial report, “The overall online rate of agricultural products is still relatively low, and there is still a lot of room for improvement in the circulation efficiency of agricultural products. “

Title picture source: Stills from the movie “The Martian”

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