The list of the 2019 China Top 500 Private Enterprises has been published and I have extracted those whose core business is in the food and beverage industry. You can compare the changes with the same list of 2014.
|248||Nongfu Spring||mineral water||Zhejiang|
|336||Zhucheng Waimao||meat starch||Shandong|
|424||Yihai Taizhou||soy processing||Jiangsu|
Some of these companies have been mentioned in various posts, indicated by the links. Regular readers will, on the other hand, miss more than a few of the big names. However, note that these are privately operated enterprises; not state owned. However, this list does reflect an intriguing event: of the two dairy giants from Inner Mongolia, Yili and Mengniu, Yili started out as a state owned enterprise that was privatised through a management buy-out, while Mengniu, once China’s most successful private enterprise, became a wholly owned subsidiary of state owned COFCO.
When we look at the regions, Shandong stands out as the number one with 8 companies. This makes sense, as that is China’s top food province and the home of Yantai, China’s unofficial food industry capital. Sichuan is runner up with 4, which indicates that these companies are quite evenly distributed over the country. A region that strikes me as disappointing is Guangdong. This province is known as China’s most entrepreneurial region, but this apparently does no lead to larger private enterprises. The Cantonese prefer to keep things small, so easier to manage.
A sorting according to core business shows that meat is the top industry with 7 companies, followed by soybean processing with 6 and cereal processing with 6. In this respect, the list is more concentrated than on the regional aspect. Most of the producs fall in the category processed primary produce. Apparently, more sophisticated food processes are less suitable for private investment in China.
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Peter Peverelli is active in and with China since 1975 and regularly travels to the remotest corners of that vast nation. He is a co-author of a major book introducing the cultural drivers behind China’s economic success.