Alibaba founder Jack Ma visits New Zealand farm investment
China's richest man, Alibaba founder Jack Ma, slipped into New Zealand incognito last month and tried his hand at hand milking a cow.
He likened it to a "kung fu" experience because while in theory kung fu looks easy, in reality it is quite difficult.
The founder of the world's largest retailer, which specialises in e-commerce, was in Waikato during Chinese New Year to check out his latest investment.
The Alibaba Group and Ma's venture capital company are 57 per cent owners of Milk New Zealand Dairy, the export arm of the investment.
A total of 29 dairy farms are owned by Milk New Zealand Holdings, which is a subsidiary of Dakang.
These include 16 of the former Crafar farms in the central North Island bought in 2012 (now known as the Tahi Farm group), and 13 farms in the South Island known as Purata Farming.
Ma said there was more to getting milk in the bucket than met the eye. He was also enthusiastic about New Zealand's environment.
"[It has] clear blue skies, water which is safe to drink, wonderful sunshine, cows free grazing in green paddocks. In contrast with other industrialised parts of the world, Aotearoa is very natural and simple; happiness is simplicity," Ma told an Auckland public relations company.
Seventy-two hours after it is produced in New Zealand, fresh milk is on the shelves of 18 Alibaba Hema Fresh supermarkets in Shanghai.
In a separate initiative Milk New Zealand began exporting fresh milk through Alibaba's online Tmall platform in September last year, which has about 15 million members in the Yangtze River Delta.
Currently between 6,200 and 9,600 litres of fresh milk is exported to China each week. A total of 154,000 litres has been exported since September.
Managing director of Milk New Zealand Dairy, Terry Lee, said Chinese consumers were concerned about food quality and safety, and New Zealand was recognised as having some of the highest food safety standards and natural resources in the world.
"The Hema Fresh supermarkets are an exciting initiative, combining internet and technology powered shopping. Everything happens through a mobile app - from ordering for home delivery, to instore product research, even payments."
The QR code on the packaging tells consumers where and how the milk was produced.
The milk which is sold through the Hema Fresh supermarkets is processed by Auckland milk processor Green Valley Dairy and airfreighted to China, arriving at Hema Fresh supermarkets 72 hours after it left the farm.
Lee said the initiative would add to Chinese consumers' demand for more New Zealand food products. The company was in talks with New Zealand and Australian food producers about the potential to partner and grow their exports to China.