- Producer: Pu Jianxin
- Brand: Yu Sheng Kang
- Year of settlement: 2009
- Location: Wudu district, Longnan region Gansu Province, China
- Olive grove: no
- Varieties: several, in particular : Leccino, Koroneiki, Pendolino, Frantoio, Picual, Arbequina, etc.
- Harvest: hand picking in November
- Production: 200 000 litres per year
- Other products: no
- Specificities: buy olives to farmers from more than 20 villages
Olive oil production in Gansu, a fruitful business!
Among the 11 large olive oil companies in Wudu district (production >100 tons per year), we have an appointment this morning at Yu Sheng Kang, in a grim industrial area at the foot of the highway along the Bailong River. Very far from the peasant icon of olive oil, here we talk about factory, business and showroom, in a rather show-off setting. Interview with Mr. Pu, in carved wooden thrones.
In Olio Veritas – When and why did you decide to get into olive oil?
Pu Jianxin – For years, I worked in the construction business here in Longnan province. My workers were often also farmers, and I found out that many had olive trees, and olives, which they did not process because they would lack time and equipment. I thought of it as a good opportunity and, since I had the resources, I have invested in this factory in 2009 where we gathered at the same location a large Pieralisi mill, our offices, and a showroom shop. In 2010, I created the Yu Sheng Kang company and brand, and started approaching olive growers in the province to offer them a partnership.
IOV – So you have a production line and a brand, but no olive trees of your own, is that it?
Pu Jianxin – Yes it is. The operation is simple: at harvest time, from the end of October to the end of November, the farmers come to the factory to sell their olives. In 2018, I bought more than 1,000 tons of olives to farmers from more than 20 villages in the province. Then, with my 40 people team, we make high quality extra virgin olive oil and sell it in China, mainly in the Gansu region, but also in Beijing city.
IOV – If not indiscreet, what is the purchase price of olives from the growers?
Pu Jianxin – It depends on the varieties and the condition of the olives. Most farmers have between 3 and 5 different varieties, which they bring all together in the same boxes. But others manage to separate them, which is worth more. On average, I would say that the purchase price is 6 Yuans per kilo (0.85€/kg), which is positive for the farmers, knowing that most of them bring me about 8 tons of olives. It’s a good business.
IOV – You seem enthusiastic! How do you see the future of olive oil in China in 10 years?
Pu Jianxin – In 10 years? In China everything goes much faster, you have to think about 3 – 5 years. In my opinion, the future of olive oil in China is good. For the moment the population does not know olive oil well and does not understand the difference between high and low quality. A recent survey showed that only 0.14% of Chinese people buy olive oil. Most people don’t even know that there is quality olive oil produced in their own country, here in Gansu. This is normal, since olive oil does not exist in Chinese cuisine. But that’s about to change! The government organizes major advertising campaigns to promote olive oil and its health benefits, and to show that the production of quality olive oil is not restricted to European countries. China is a large country and therefore a large potential market for local olive oil.
IOV – Can you show us some examples of government advertising?
Pu Jianxin – Of course! Watch this beautiful report on our company on CCTV. And there were several of them. There are also ads on social networks. They provide the financial resources to quickly change local consumption habits, highlighting the benefits and showing that, here in China, we are doing things right: organic farming, hand harvesting, technological production lines, research laboratories, marketing, etc.
IOV – Thank you Mr. Pu. Let’s go and taste it now, if you don’t mind!
Mr. Pu leads us to the showroom, on the ground floor of the building. The staging is refined and the bottle shelves are topped with frames displaying Yu Sheng Kang brand ads. Mr. Pu hands us drinks to taste his 2018 elixir. The golden colour is beautiful, but the oil remains rather bland. No flaws, but not an ounce of pepperiness or bitterness. We assume that this is due to mixing indifferently so many varieties at the mill. Anyway, our host doesn’t seem to be as interested in taste as in image!
>> To learn more about olive oil in China, find all our articles in English here!