Jack Ma is betting on a new food business in China | CNN Business

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Hong Kong/Taipei
CNN

Alibaba founder Jack Ma has a new title: owner of “Ma’s Kitchen.”

China’s most famous tech billionaire has thrown his weight behind the newly formed startup, whose name translates to “Hangzhou Ma Kitchen Food” in English.

According to Chinese public records, the company was established last Wednesday in Ma’s hometown of Hangzhou in eastern China and serves as the base for e-commerce and technology giant Alibaba.BABA).

According to the China National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System, a state-run corporate registry, the new venture will focus on selling prepackaged foods, import and export products, and “edible agricultural products.”

“Ma’s Kitchen.” 10 million yuan ($1.4 million registered capital), the system showed.

According to Qichacha, a corporate information provider in China, the business is wholly owned by Hangzhou Dajingtou No. 22 Arts and Culture, of which Jack Ma owns 99.9%.

The new company hasn’t been public about its business model, or what kind of food it will sell. The Jack Ma Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday.

Although there are few details, it has led to speculation that the set-up may be looking to make a big move into prepared foods in China.

China’s market for prepared foods – food that is ready to be heated and eaten – was worth 71.1 billion yuan ($9.9 billion) last year, up about 28% from 2018, according to Euromonitor International.

Demand for other packaged foods has also increased, with the market for meal kits – meal boxes that require simple assembly or cooking – expanding in 2018. It nearly tripled from 10.6 billion yuan ($1.5 billion) in 2018 to 29.1 billion yuan ($4 billion) in 2018. By 2022, Euromonitor data showed.

While the focus of Ma’s venture was not immediately clear, “this is an area with a lot of room for innovation,” said Ben Cavender, a strategy consultant at China Market Research Group.

FILE PHOTO: Alibaba Group founder and CEO Jack Ma attends the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, China, Sept. 17, 2018.  REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo

“Packaged foods are becoming more and more popular,” he told CNN. “In some cases, consumers are choosing to burn these foods and eat less, but they’re choosing them because of the variety and the lack of time.”

Habits created during the epidemic – to stay and choose convenient food options – as well as one Economic collapse It must have inspired many people in China to turn their attention to space.

“Instead, if it ends up being about the sale of fresh foods like fruit, there’s also a search for high-quality options and reasonable prices, and that’s the relationship with e-commerce… price,” Cavender added.

Ma founded Alibaba in 1999 He came down As the chairman of the company in 2019, about A year ago Landing in hot water with Chinese authorities for criticizing Chinese financial regulators and banks. Since then, the entrepreneur has kept a relatively low profile while becoming a shareholder of Alibaba.

Ma’s latest talk comes as investors pay close attention to his business interests: Last week, he Get rid of plans to sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Alibaba stock following a slump in the company’s stock.

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