Jack Ma, the founder and CEO of China’s largest e-commerce site visited Detroit to speak at the Gateway 17 conference last week.  The billionaire’s message was simple, utilize Alibaba to tap into the growing Chinese market.  According to Ma, the “Alibaba platform recently sold 2 million lipsticks in 10 minutes.”  This large opportunity is nothing new for the company that when first starting, sold nearly 100,000 live Canadian lobsters for delivery to China, shutting down the supply.

The Chinese middle class is growing at a fast pace, today hitting almost 300 million consumers.  A good look at its potential is the film and media market where entertainment companies rely heavily on the country to reach the billion dollar mark.

The purpose of Ma visiting Detroit is to open a line into the Midwest region. Ma believes the Midwest small businesses can offer products in the various food industries that could please Chinese consumers.  Like the title says, Alibaba’s goal “is to allow consumers anywhere to buy products from anywhere in the world — salmon from Norway, coconuts from Thailand — and receive them within 72 hours.”

This new focus will raise an interesting opportunity for the Midwest and the country as a whole.  Amazon, an American company has made billions over its lifespan but has invested more in the West Coast of the country.  If a foreign corporation invests more money in a region like the Midwest than a national company, will the people of the Midwest support that foreign company more?

An interesting progression that we may find out sooner rather than later.  Until then, Alibaba is offering plenty of opportunity for agricultural companies and it seems that this may be the future for farmers.

Alibaba is generally described as the Amazon.com of China. With $23 billion in annual revenues and 454 million active buyers, the site is enormous. Alibaba’s online platforms account for 80% of all e-commerce in China.