XI'AN, May 29 -- From supplying KFC hamburger buns to a household brand in Xi'an, Yupinxuan is one of the inspirational stories of Taiwan business success on the mainland.
Nineteen year ago, 23-year-old Yang Hongpeng, founder of Yupinxuan, came to Xi'an, Shaanxi Province to learn business from his uncle, who was farming fish.
It was never occurred to him that the visit would bring him a pastry empire and a Shaanxi wife.
"It was 1999, and I got the opportunity to provide hamburger buns for local KFC stores. Thinking that my older brother was a western pastry chief, I persuaded him to come to Xi'an and began a baking career in the yellow earth [the nickname of Shaanxi]," Yang said.
They started from a small factory and five employees, and swiftly found their place in the city's food industry. With the accumulation of experience and capital, they transplanted the baking style and flavor of Taiwan pastries to Xi'an.
The first Yupinxuan pastry store opened in Xi'an in 2001 and was named after his uncle's bakery in Taichung city, Taiwan. His store highlighted delicate "Taiwan style" pastries and cakes, which were unique and soon gained fame.
Now the Yupinxuan franchise has 60 stores across Shaanxi offering about 200 products.
For Yang, Yupinxuan's success, on one hand, lies in "quality and innovation." Over the past 17 years, Yang has tried to introduce various Taiwan style pastries, including the island's pineapple cake and natural food cream, while constantly innovating his products to cater to local people. He insists on using high-level materials and ensuring the food quality and safety.
On the other hand, a key factor was development opportunities based on the huge markets in the mainland's western areas.
"A small Taiwan bakery met a vast sky and earth," he said.
In the 1990s, entrepreneurs from Taiwan began investing in the mainland's west. At that time the western areas were less developed and were missing many industries, presenting Taiwan businessmen with a burgeoning market.
Since 2005, more Taiwan entrepreneurs have joined to tap the market in the western areas. This time, they wanted a share of the high-speed development in the mainland economy, especially the fast upgrading of infrastructure in the western areas, according to Yang.
Today the western areas are providing more and better opportunities with the advancement of the Belt and Road Initiative, attracting younger and smarter Taiwan businessmen, according to Yang.
He hopes his brand can go further to the west and gain success in other regions and countries along the Belt and Road Initiative routes.
"We are considering building bases in Central Asia and developing products that suit the taste and customs of local people," he said. "We want to develop pastries with Muslim standards, and expand our stores to regions along the routes."