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Billionaires You’Ve Never Heard of #1: Qin Yinglin and his Billion Dollar Pigs

Qin Yinglin is one of the least known billionaires in the world. Chinese, he made his fortune breeding pigs. Today, he is the richest farmer in China with a fortune of about 20 billion dollars as these lines are written.

This is the story of how one pig set Qin on the path to becoming one of the richest people on the planet.


Life and Education

Qin was born in a poor Chinese family in 1965. At the time, most of China was underdeveloped.

He was a good student at school and worked different small jobs to help his family make ends meet.

When Qin was 17, his father bought twenty pigs hoping to make some money raising them.

Unfortunately, all of them but one died due to the swine flu.

This intrigued Qin, and he decided to study animal husbandry to help other people raise hogs and avoid having them die in such circumstances.

In 1985, at age 20, he was accepted at the Henan Agricultural University and graduated four years later with a bachelor’s degree.

Qin used his education and got a job at Nanyang Food Company, a public food-making business giving “iron rice bowl” jobs to most of its employees.

An iron rice bowl job is a secured and guaranteed job that employees often keep for their entire life.

Qin met his wife Qian, a vet, while working for Nanyang.

Three years later, they decided to quit their comfortable 9-5 to start their own business.


From the First Pig to the First Billion

When Qin and Qian started out in 1992, China had already changed quite much since Qin was born in 1965.

Qin had never forgotten the initial reason why he had studied animal husbandry and moved back to his hometown with his wife to do what he had initially set out to do: helping people make money raising pigs.

They started their pig breeding business in 1992 with 22 pigs.

From the very beginning, Qin and Qian decided to control as much of their business as possible. While the food industry is traditionally made out of companies focusing on one step of the production chain, Qin and Qian made sure to vertically integrate as many operations as they could.

They also sought to use all of the existing technology to enforce quality and control production.

This was a huge success. They became much more productive than their competitors.

In 1994, two years after starting out, they had 2000 pigs, a 10 000% increase!!

In 1997, they were raising 10 000 pigs.

They kept on growing the farm by relentlessly looking for better and more efficient ways to breed the hogs.

In 2000, Qin created a new company to integrate his existing one, Muyuan Farming.

Muyuan slowly but surely broadened its activities from exclusively breeding to raising.

The growth was steady until 2010 when their business exploded. As Muyuan sought to expand, they managed to get a loan from International Finance Corporation, the World Bank investing unit that invests in the private sector.

That enabled Qin and Qian to grow Muyuan to acquire more pigs and vertically integrate different operations of pork production.

They rebranded from Muyuan Farming to Muyuan Foodstuff and started slaughtering on top of breeding and raising.

By 2013, they were raising one million pigs for slaughter annually.

One year later, in 2014, Muyuan was listed on the Shenzhen stock exchange.

In 2015, Qin became a billionaire with a fortune of 1.2 billion dollars.


Stratospheric Rise

By 2019, Qin’s fortune had reached 4.3 billion dollars.

So, how did he get from 4.3 billion to 35 billion in April 2021?

Answer: the swine flu.

In 2018, the African swine flu ravaged the Chinese pork industry. Fortunately for Qin, he was prepared.

Muyuan started using AI-powered technology and other intelligent systems that could detect anomalies in pigs. This prevented the swine from spreading in the drove, and Muyuan, thanks to their obsession with control and innovation, was spared, unlike their competitors.

It is estimated that out of the 360 million hogs in China, 200 million were culled.

Lower supply and equal (if not higher) demand jacked up pork prices by 160%.

During that time, Qin, which owns 40% of his company, saw his fortune explode due to the rise of his Muyuan’s stock price. Simultaneously, Muyuan’s profit increased by 863%.

From 2019 to April 2021, Qin has had the fastest-growing fortune in the world, which culminated at 35 billion dollars in April of this year. The coronavirus also added an estimated 6 billion to his fortune as lower pork access increased prices.

His net worth has since come back down to 20 billion.


Conclusion

Commitment to excellence, relentless innovation, and vertical integration enabled Qin and Qian to become the most successful farmers of China, breeding more than 10 million piglets as these lines are written.

As we can see, the real secret to billion-dollar businesses is scale. Had they not been able to scale their business, they would have never become billionaires.

In a tech-driven world, Qin Yinglin is one of the very few billionaires that made his fortune with pigs.

It’s proof that you can really make money with anything…as long as there is potential for growth.

Picture credits: Photo by Kenneth Schipper Vera on Unsplash

Sources:

Muyuan Foodstuff

Wikipedia

Forbes

Businessinsider

Financial Times

Forbes

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