For Wen Xiaoyan, shipping live fish to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region not only confirms the product quality but could lead to further business opportunities.
Wen is the director of Santai Eco Fishery Ltd, based in Dongguan, Guangdong province. The company supplies 1 metric ton a day of jade perch, a medium-sized freshwater fish normally found in Australia, to high-end supermarkets in Hong Kong.
"If the product passes the quality and safety tests in Hong Kong, it will be much easier to pitch them in other areas of China," she said.
Wen's viewpoint is shared by other farm owners, who regard gaining certification to export agricultural products to Hong Kong as a means to access other high-end agricultural markets.
The Chinese mainland supplies the majority of food at the Hong Kong market. Live pigs, cattle, sheep, birds, aquatic animals and fruit are some of the major products imported from the mainland, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
In order to ensure the safety of products, all agricultural products originate from licensed farms that undergo regular inspections.
Wen's 24,000 square meter fish farm, in a suburban industrial park in Dongguan, applies strict safety requirements at each processing stage. These include a water purification process, vital for the fish to breed.
All the fish are bred in specialized conditions where the yearlong air temperature is maintained at 25 C to 30 C.
Workers and visitors have to go through a sanitization process before entering.
Less than 20 percent of the live fish from Wen's company are supplied to the Chinese mainland, mainly to high-end hotels and restaurants in Dongguan and Shenzhen.
However, the company has included the Chinese mainland in its long-tem growth target.
It planned to open sales outlets in all major cities across China and the first could open in Beijing in 2015, she said.
Other farmers that supply agricultural products to Hong Kong also share similar ambitions.
Jin Weiran, general manager of Yuli Vegetable Co in Rizhao, Shandong province, supplies 24 types of vegetables to Hong Kong supermarkets.
Jin said the quality standards for Hong Kong have helped him improve his quality control.
Jin said he is also targeting high-end supermarkets and hotels in major cities in the mainland.
He wants to lease more land from farmers, and local authorities have offered support.
"It is a step-by-step process. We need to maintain the quality of products while expanding the production scale," he said.
(China Daily 02/12/2014 page7)