Through crowdfunding, Puremilk started its sustainable practice in the dairy industry in 2015. The venture was co-founded by veterinarians Gong Jianjia, Lin Xiaowan and Guo Zheyou, who had hoped to serve as a bridge between consumers and dairy farmers and form a healthy cycle of dairy consumption. For Puremilk, behind a bottle of fresh milk is a revolution of industry, enabling veterinarians to realize sustainable education and reallocate resources to rural areas.
Puremilk upholds the concept of fair trade and purchases raw milk from high-quality dairy farmers who are willing to invest more in optimizing pasture feeding and management at a reasonable price. In addition to providing rewards or incentives for high nutritional content, Puremilk has allocated 10% of its annual net profit to cooperative dairy farmers every year since 2016 to encourage priority to be used for the improvement of cattle breeding environment and the welfare of employees in the ranch.
Below is an interview with Mr. Gong Jian-Jia (龔建嘉), CEO of Fresh Milk.
Q: From a veterinarian to entrepreneur, in the process of starting a business, were your values ever shaken and how did you change?
A: In the past, my values used to be more capitalistic; I thought I needed to satisfy myself and maximize my interests before going for the next step. Until I became in touch with life outside the city and spent time with the natives in Orchid Island, I began to see the importance of co-existing with the environment as human beings. Every day they go fishing just enough for their family, and they will not go for more. They do not pursue a lifestyle of maximization, which touched me deeply. In the beginning, I was full of skepticism whether it’s possible to embrace such values in the commercial world.”
“Since management is a complicated process, blending these values with the current business landscape is always difficult. After spending five years in the market, the company now has a technical team of nutritionists and veterinarians working together with farmers and supermarkets. We hope to establish a longer-term partnership with each stakeholder, and not just let other parties treat us as a commercial vendor or competitor.”
Q: If you were released from work for one month, what would you do?
A: The most ideal situation is to spend one month by the sea in Orchid Island and finish reading thirty books. I’ve just started using electronic books this year, so I don’t need to worry about bringing too many books. I met my wife during my time of working in Orchid Island; we took our wedding photos there as well. We are familiar with that place, which is why we go back every year to visit.”
Q: If you were to exchange an ability for an ability, how would you choose?
“I don’t think I have a special ability to exchange with others. But if I could choose, I’d want to be able to read hearts. I believe that many people are empathetic, highly attuned to others’ needs. I think that’s amazing, and I hope to have the same ability.”
Q: If you could go back in time, where would you go?
I’d like to become young and live again. Then I thought, I am actually quite satisfied with my current life, which is the sum of little decisions from the past. If I could go back, perhaps things would become completely different. Although not everything is satisfying, I do believe I live a content life.
Choice of the Future: Nurture talents, Embrace diversity and inclusion as part of the company culture
Q: Coming to the fifth year of Fresh Milk, what hasn’t changed about the business in the past few years? What will not change or will change after ten years?
A: “What remains unchanged is the group of people we care about, including farmers, animals, and our partners. What would change is us: from not knowing how the business world works to embracing a more social, knowledgeable way of doing things and understanding rules. So, in the next ten years, I believe Fresh Milk will become a diversified, rich and inclusive company.”
Regarding the company’s ideal vision, Jian-Jia said, “What Fresh Milk cares about is a very niche dairy farming industry. Everyone cared about what I cared about. But when this group of people has completed different stages of challenges every step of the way, we have also begun to become more aware of the society and the environment alongside the company’s profitability. Fresh Milk is made to become more tolerant and people-oriented whether it is dealing with the environment or people.”
Finally, Jian-Jia shared a practical example, “A former human resources colleague went on to start his own beverage business, hoping to incorporate the cultural spirit from Fresh Milk. We are like seeds, with each of us germinating in different industries, we are starting a revolution little by little. If more people are involved in the future to make the dairy-related industry better together, it would be what we hope to see in ten years.”