Food factory reborn with support of US firm
Updated: 2012-09-25 15:54
By Wu Yong in Shenyang (chinadaily.com.cn)
Chao Cuiju's biggest dream is to work for Changjiang Food Factory forever.
The 52-year-old female food technologist has worked for the factory ever since graduating from high school in 1978.
Two workers mark the Changjiang logo on moon cakes at Changjiang Food Factory, Shenyang city, Liaoning province. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]
Shenyang's Changjiang Food Factory was once one of the two major food producers in this industrial city in Northeast China. It was founded in the 1930's and saw its peak in the 1960's when its moon cakes were presented to Kim Il Sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. But the state-run factory aged quickly after China reformed its economy at the end of the last century.
Until 2011, the factory only operated for two months every year to produce moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival. The local government then looked for new investors to revive the company.
"I heard about the factory's story several years ago in New York when the local government organized an investment seminar there," said Cheng Deyuan, chairman of Shanghai Jet-Mass Investment Consultancy Corp, an international consultancy company founded in New York in 1992. "Later I checked its history and found that the plant has so many glories and stories. Its long history is its best asset."
Cheng, a Chinese-American, has engaged in Sino-US economic and trade cooperation for years. He was attracted by the legend of the factory and decided to try his hand in the real economy.
The new factory, in a southeastern outskirt of Shenyang, is a two-hour drive away from the city's center. It now employs 57 workers, one-tenth of its former staff.
Chao said that half of the employees came from the old plant, to ensure the flavor of the food. And the plant keeps producing handmade moon cakes.
"My father told me that food production must adhere to quality and credibility standards. The rest doesn’t matter," Chao said. Her father worked for the factory his whole life and retired in late 2000.
Wan Jutong, general manager of the factory, echoed that view. Wan said that the factory would maintain the old tastes.
"This is the rebirth of Changjiang and we plan to produce other food, including bread and cakes after the festival," Wan said.
He expects this year's moon cake production to increase 30 percent and reach 40 metric tons.
The highest annual output of the factory was around 800 metric tons, according to Wan.
"Some food companies promised me big money but I rejected all of them. Changjiang is my hometown. It's not only about a job but also about the lifestyle here. I want to work for the company for as long as I can," Chao said.