BEIJING, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Housewife Wang Sijia has been busy picking out food for the coming Spring Festival holiday, sourcing peanuts, chicken, dates and other goodies from regions around the country.
But Wang hasn't had to travel a single mile to purchase her goods. In fact, she hasn't even had to leave her bedroom.
"With a single click of the mouse, specialty foods from around China can be put in my online shopping basket. Most importantly, they are authentic, organic and quality-ensured," the Beijing native said with a smile.
Hundreds of miles away in the village of Zhangjiagou in north China's Shanxi Province, farmer Wang Xiaobang is smiling too. Sales at his online farm produce shop have been soaring, with the number of transactions reaching 200 per day.
Wang opened his online shop in 2008 after working as a migrant worker in Beijing for six years. With monthly net profits of 80,000 yuan (13,000 U.S. dollars), Wang has become a successful online farm produce vendor.
"I didn't expect agricultural products to sell so well online. I just wanted to bring fresh produce grown by our villagers to more customers," said the 36-year-old Wang. "Now I am convinced that the online market is really huge and the Internet can play a big role in the countryside."
The story of the two Wangs is just one example of China's booming online farm produce market. More and more urbanites are shopping for groceries online to ensure a healthy diet.
A report released by the Alibaba Group in January revealed that sales of agricultural products on Taobao.com and Tmall.com, the country's biggest online retail stores, totaled 19.8 billion yuan (3.14 billion U.S. dollars) in 2012. An average of 20,000 Chinese families buy farm produce online every day.
Tea is the most popular item, according to the report, with daily trade exceeding 7 million yuan. Tea is followed in popularity by dates, nuts and honey products. Fresh fruit and seafood have registered the fastest growth, with annual sales quadrupling last year.
The number of farmers who have chosen to hawk their products online has grown as well, with 1.71 million online farm produce vendors by the end of 2011, according to a report from the Information Research Center of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"This is a win-win situation, both for customers and farmers," said China E-Commerce Research Center analyst Zhang Zhouping. "On the one hand, it can satisfy urban consumers' desire to eat safe and healthy; on the other hand, it can further promote the use of technology in rural areas and increase farmers' incomes."
A series of food safety scandals that have shattered consumer confidence have made it difficult for consumers to trust street vendors or even established brands.
"Online shopping can actually increase transparency and mutual trust," said Wang Sijia. "You can tell where and how the products are made through online videos, pictures and farm licenses posted by the farmers themselves, all of which are unavailable when purchasing through traditional means."
The direct link between buyers and producers also helps both sides get rid of intermediary surcharges, which have pushed up food prices while gobbling up the bulk of farmers' profits, she added.