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Company grows as sea buckthorn products expand in popularity

By Liu Yukun and Sun Ruisheng in Xinzhou | | Updated: 2020-07-19 09:47
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This Songjiagou Functional Foods Co Ltd research lab is in Xinzhou, North China's Shanxi province. [Photo by Liu Yukun/]

While sea buckthorn juice is enjoying increasing popularity on Chinese dining tables, Shanxi Songjiagou Functional Foods Co Ltd is thinking of ways to develop more uses of the nutritious fruit to move up the global value chain.

Examples include sea-buckthorn herbal tea, a functional drink, and dietary supplements. The value of sea buckthorns per metric ton will increase about 10 times after being processed into functional products, said Zhang Yanfeng, chairman of Shanxi Songjiagou Functional Foods.

"Sea buckthorn has an impressive nutritional profile, including various vitamins, anti-oxidants and, anti-inflammation properties and many other nutrients. The fruit is good for health in many ways, and our company is stepping up efforts to research and develop more of its uses, with joint efforts from research labs in various institutes," Zhang said.

Zhang said the company has developed a total of 14 lines of products and is likely to earn revenue of 20 million yuan ($2.86 million) this year.

Founded in 2018 in Kelan county, Xinzhou city of North China's Shanxi province, the company has invested 310 million yuan to develop sea buckthorn-related industries.

"China has over 90 percent of the world's sea buckthorns, while 70 percent is produced in Shanxi. Just in Kelan county, there are about 32,667 hectares of sea buckthorns. We hope to fully leverage the regional resources," Zhang said.

Zhang said the local government also has rolled out a series of supportive measures to boost sea buckthorn-related industries.

"Take our company as an example. The local government has improved infrastructure, implemented tax cuts, and gave us 1 million yuan in research subsidies per year for three consecutive years to support our business," Zhang said.

The company also created job opportunities to over 717 local families in poverty.

"In 2019, we bought over 700 tons of sea buckthorns valued at more than 6 million yuan from local farmers and associations," Zhang said.

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