Mark Lyons recently moved to China to lead Alltech’s team there. He spoke to Symposium attendees during the closing session this morning about the “Great Call of China,” the opportunities and challenges for companies that want to do business in China. He described the complexity of China. Some of that complexity comes from its immense size. It is hard to sum up China partly because there are regions of China that are similar to Europe, Africa, the Americas, and the rest of Asia.
Based on demographics, you would expect the Chinese to be a very homogeneous people. Roughly 96% of the population is Han and 52 minorities make up the other 6%. But that is still an enormous number of people. In fact, the 6% minority population in China is twice the population of Ireland.
China has 20% of the world’s people and only 7% of the world’s arable land. To make matters more difficult, that arable land only receives ¼ as much water as the global average. China’s leaders are focused on food safety and food supply. They are moving to larger farms even as agriculture in the west is seeing demand for smaller, more “local” farms. As China develops its agriculture industry it will have enormous impact on the agriculture industry and economies throughout the world. This impact will present an opportunity for some and a challenge for others.
Mark Lyons asked his Alltech China team what message they would like to send to the audience at Symposium. “If you were to tell them one thing about succeeding in China, what would it be?” Their answer… “What you should do everywhere, you must do in China.” You should build relationships with your customers and your future customers no matter where your business is. In China it is essential. You will not be able to conduct business in China without many visits to the country and a long term commitment to getting to know the culture and the people.