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Food & Beverage

China's state-run grocers approach Alibaba in sales

Mao-era co-ops find new footing amid pandemic and threat of future crisis

State-run co-ops look like regular supermarkets for the most part, except for the political messaging. (Photo by Tsukasa Hadano)

BEIJING -- China's state-run cooperatives are making a comeback as the Xi administration works to bolster national distribution chains, with sales fast approaching that of e-commerce leader Alibaba Group Holding.

Supervised by the government's All China Federation of Supply and Marketing Cooperatives, these groups sell food purchased straight from farmers and other daily necessities. Revenue jumped 19% in 2021 to 6.26 trillion yuan ($891 billion) -- around 80% of Alibaba's, and outpacing the 12% increase in overall retail sales in China.

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