Pinduoduo has applied to patent a cold-chain logistics network system that seeks to minimize the loss and quality degradation of agricultural products and other perishables during transportation.
The application was filed with the China National Intellectual Property Administration on Dec. 24, 2020, and sought to patent the company’s proprietary cold-chain logistics information system. The patent application covers technologies that could plan cold-chain transportation routes based on information such as the location of the collection point and the distribution point, the availability of cold-chain logistics infrastructure, the transportation timeframe, and the number of transit points. The aim is to shorten the delivery time and reduce food loss and waste, according to the patent document.
Pinduoduo is investing in and working with partners to expand cold-chain logistics, warehousing and sorting facilities so that consumers can buy a wider range of perishables that require refrigeration and household necessities. The company introduced Duo Duo Grocery, a next-day pick-up grocery service, in August in two cities, and has since expanded it to most provinces. The aim was to meet growing demand from consumers for high-quality produce at attractive prices the following day.
While online grocery shopping has taken off in China after the Covid-19 lockdowns last year pushed many households to seek alternative ways to buy their daily necessities, the current logistics system is designed mainly for industrial products. The routes and handling methods are not necessarily suitable for the transporting of agricultural and fresh products.
Without a dedicated logistics handling system, fresh produce can suffer higher-than-average loss or deteriorate in quality traveling from origin to destination. This is especially apparent under testing weather conditions such as summer.
For example, at some transit points, agricultural products may be taken out of a refrigerated environment to be repacked at room temperature, resulting in damage and food loss. Through cold-chain-based route planning, the whole logistics process would be designed to transport agricultural and fresh produce in a refrigerated environment, avoiding temperature-induced loss of freshness or quality of food.
This will help reduce food loss, which is estimated at more than 35 million tons annually, or 6 percent of China’s total food production. Food is lost or wasted at every stage of the food supply chain, from production to storage to distribution. Digitalization can improve the overall efficiency along the entire value chain, which can then drive down costs.
Pinduoduo operates China’s largest agricultural platform, handling more than 270 billion yuan in farm products last year. It has set a goal of becoming the world’s top grocer.