In 2016, the retailer established a free-range chicken farm in China’s economically disadvantaged Wuyi County, in Hebei province, which utilised blockchain technology to improve traceability in its poultry supply chain.
The program has helped reduce poverty in one of the country’s historically poorest regions, while providing free-range chicken meat to discerning shoppers on the JD platform. It has resulted in sales of the free-range chicken products doubling on JD in its first two years. JD hires professional breeders to take the lead in tending to the chickens, while local farmers are offered part-time jobs, maintaining farms and growing vegetables, fruit and grain for chicken feed.
“We are thrilled to see the ‘Running Chicken’ initiative find so much success with consumers just two years after its launch,” said Xiaowen Liu, key projects lead, fresh food sourcing at JD. “The project showcases how e-commerce can benefit society as a whole by alleviating poverty, while bringing high-quality, safer, and better-tasting produce to consumers.”
According to JD, the free-roaming chickens spend at least 50% of their time outdoors, so they can exercise in fresh air and sunshine and interact with other chickens. Its research has shown that free-range chicken meat can have lower levels of harmful cholesterol and saturated fat and higher levels of beneficial omega-3 acids, beta-carotene and vitamins A, B and E.
As part of the scheme, JD fits each chicken with a specially-designed pedometer, with the aim of having each bird take one million steps during the rearing process.
The company also uses blockchain technology for maximum quality assurance and full traceability.
Since early 2018, JD customers have been able to review details about the rearing process for every chicken they buy. A scan of the QR code on the poultry’s packaging allows buyers to view detailed information on sourcing, feeding intervals and more. The chickens are delivered via JD’s self-operated logistics network, which covers 99% of China’s population and offers same and next-day delivery to most customers.
Following the chicken project’s initial success, JD has expanded its philanthropic reach and range of premium produce by launching two similar farm-to-table initiatives: ‘Swimming Duck’ in the Jiangsu Province and ‘Flying Pigeon’ in the Hebei Province.