Pinduoduo flags priorities on agricultural productivity with record R&D spending

Pinduoduo reiterated its priority to step up research and development and invest in boosting agricultural productivity in its latest results announcement. 

The online marketplace operator reported 61 billion orders in total for 2021, up from 38.3 billion from the year before, driven by rising agriculture transactions. The number of active customers also increased to 868.7 million. In 2021, the company spent around 9 billion yuan in R&D, the highest level in its history.

As its user growth approaches market saturation, Pinduoduo has signalled that it would shift its priorities to investing for the long term by focusing on research and development. The company has identified building up a smart logistics infrastructure system with lower wastage and spoilage as a key area for investment.

Pinduoduo previously said it will invest in grooming young talent to strengthen its managerial ranks, and train more aspiring entrepreneurs to set up businesses to help their communities.

“In 2021, we made the strategic shift from sales and marketing toward research and development.” said Chen Lei, Pinduoduo Chairman and CEO. “We see ourselves making more long-term investment, especially in agriculture and R&D.”

Investing in agriculture has become a hallmark of Pinduoduo, which sees the lower rate of digitalization in the sector as an opportunity to improve productivity and bring widespread benefits to producers and consumers alike.

To date, the company has set up training partnerships with local agronomic institutes to help farmers upgrade their skills. Pinduoduo is also the organizer of the annual Smart Agriculture Competition, a greenhouse challenge designed to foster a cross-pollination of ideas and deliver a multi-disciplinary approach to solving agricultural challenges. 

The company also regularly organizes knowledge-sharing events. Earlier this month, Pinduoduo jointly hosted a webinar with the FAO in China on how smart agriculture can bolster food production and security.

As the largest online platform for agricultural sales in China, Pinduoduo waives commissions for agricultural products to encourage more farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs to try out e-commerce. The company also works with local partners to hold special agricultural shopping festivals to boost consumer awareness of agricultural specialties from different regions.

Its flagship Annual Harvest Festival promotes high-quality produce from more than 400 growing regions, including many geographical indications in China.

Last August, Pinduoduo announced a 10 Billion Agriculture Initiative dedicated to facilitating agritech and promoting digital inclusion. Profits from the fourth quarter will be allocated to the initiative, the company said.


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