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"Strict crop selection is our competitive advantage"

Taiwan: Tingmao grows only specialty crops

Tingmao Agricultural Biotechnology produces over 50 crops variety in its high-end nursery in Taiwan. The company supplies restaurants in Taipei and other cities with its specialty products. Sales are done on-line and in store. One of the crops produced by Tingmao Agricultural is called 'Ice Plant'. The Ice Plant is a special crop that originates from Japan. It is famous for its properties to lower blood pressure and to fight lipidemia, and for the effects it has on moisturising the skin. Tingmao Agricultural Biotechnology is the first company that cultivates the Ice Plant in Taiwan.

“We established our plant factory in 2007. We got our inspiration from Japan. There are many advanced nurseries in Japan and we wanted to import that concept to Taiwan. We visited Japan many times at the start of our business. We supply restaurants directly and sell our products on-line. All our crops are super fresh: from the nursery directly to the table,” says John Chao, sales manager.

Erin Lo, executive manager, Kenny Wu, vice-president, and John Chao, sales manager. A year ago Discovery Channel visited the company to film the production process.

Research into new crops and strict selection procedures are one of the competitive advantages of the company. The company has strict procedures for crops development. “We select our crop varieties based on two criteria: high nutritional and medicinal properties and high market prices. We are researching new crops each month and we focus on premium products only. The Taiwan Jewel orchid is a well known crop in Taiwan. It is added to hot water as a tea, or used in a soup. Another crop we are growing is the Oysterleaf. The Oysterleaf originally comes from the coast of England and France and few people in Taiwan know about it. We explain to people that all of the crops are very healthy, and each crop has different nutritional value. We also show how it should be prepared. If the crop is unique it means that it is rare in Taiwan. That is also a reason why many people like to try it.”

Oysterleaf, to the left, has a salty like the sea taste and contains mineral zinc. The Ice Plant, to the right, can help to lower ones blood pressure

Lettuce is traditionally eaten raw. The concept of raw lettuce entered Taiwan via Western shops and restaurants, such as TGI Friday. Due to Taiwan's warm climate, lettuce cannot grow in open ground. It is not an indigenous plant to Taiwan. John explains: "lettuce used to come from Europe and North America. Because of the long transport time, it is hard to maintain the freshness and crispness of the crop. In recent years, more companies have invested in possibilities to grow lettuce in Taiwan. The market has become more competitive as such. We can compete on this market due to the uniqueness of our products. In addition, we are a fully integrated company: from nursery, to crop selection, sales and marketing. We can set a trend in the industry. We currently employ more than 100 people and are still growing”.

“Our first step is to focus on Hong Kong and Mainland China for foreign expansion. We want to both start to export our products abroad and to share our technology with foreign growers. Prices on the Mainland are lower than prices in Taiwan. However, in cities like Beijing and Shanghai living costs and prices have gone up quickly. In addition, Chinese citizens are concerned about their health and about food safety. Our prices are higher than market prices. That is why we have invested in marketing: to explain our products to our clients. We show that our cultivation is more cost intensive because it is a very pure process, without any harmful chemicals. Also the related products we produce, such as juices and soaps, are 100% natural. The price of our crop is higher than that of traditionally cultivated products. However, our products are safe and toxic-free and do not contain pesticides or heavy metals. This is the value we add with our products.”

The Taiwan Jewel Orchid is an endemic species to Taiwan and its medicinal properties are widely researched in Taiwan and Japan

For more information:

John Chao
Tingmao Agricultural Biotechnology
Contact number: +866 2 2722 8333 ext:7603
Email: [email protected]