Across China: “Land of Bakeries” brings sweet success

NANCHANG, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) — In metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai, it is common to see a line of people queuing for a long time for a bite of a shell-shaped cake with meat floss, but few know that the highly sought after cakes originate in a remote village in Zixi County, east China’s Jiangxi Province.

Famous for its flourishing baking industry, Zixi has been regarded as China’s “Land of Bakeries.” Approximately 50,000 of its nearly 130,000 residents have opened bakeries in more than 1,000 cities around the world since the 1980s.

Residents of the county used to seek wealth outside of the mountainous area to shake off poverty. So far, Zixi people have created around 100 bakery brands, with the annual output value exceeding 20 billion yuan (3.1 billion U.S. dollars).

Among them, Bao Caisheng, founder of a Chinese popular bakery chain Baoshifu, has been one of the most prominent representatives to find their way to wealth through making bread.

“Bread” was a keyword even in Bao’s childhood.

“When I was a little boy, my parents opened a small bakery of less than 40 square meters. I started to learn breadmaking after graduating from junior high school,” he said.

Once learning that Bao has now opened more than 70 shops in China, with his company being valued at about 10 billion yuan, one can hardly imagine Bao’s road to success was bumpy.

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The 47-year-old baker followed the trend of opening bakeries and started his own business in 1995 in Zhengzhou City, the capital of central China’s Henan Province.

“I thought it could become a hit, but the reality was harsh. The dismal business cost me 1 million yuan in debt,” he said. “But how could I give up?”

To make his next shop more successful, Bao devoted himself to the study of diversified breadmaking skills and developed new flavors of bread.

Trying and failing did not knock him down, but made him stronger. In 2004, Bao opened his second bakery with his wife in Beijing beside the Communication University of China.

“Constrained by a limited budget, we could not afford staff at first. To cut costs, we lived in the attic of the shop. The less than 40-square-meter shop was almost the only place we went,” he said.

Hard work gradually paid off. To their surprise, the shell-shaped cake with meat floss they made in 2006 has brought them the biggest success of their life. “I never imagined students would be willing to queue for the shell-shaped cake,” he said.

In 2017, Bao opened the first bakery of his brand Baoshifu in Shanghai, which gained big popularity on the first day. Bao still remembered the crowd of people in front of his shop, lining up over three hours only for one bite of his cake.

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“There were even cake scalpers,” said Bao, adding that the opening of his bakery in Shanghai became a buzzword on social media platforms that day.

Referring to his success, the baker and businessman said his goal was to make a century-old brand, letting more people around the world have a taste of the China-made cakes.

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