14494 Wed, 05/14/2008 - 3:21pm
By Andrea Lillo
As the housewares trade show circuit for the first half of the year comes to a close, among the hot new marketing tags is “Made in America.”
Joining popular phrases such as “environmentally friendly,” or induction-ready features like stay-cool handles, the ability to tout products as Made in America is a benefit that has more to do with logistics and cost than patriotism.
While manufacturers abandoned their factories in the U.S. long ago in search of better pricing overseas, now the tide is turning. With the weakened dollar, drastically increased oil prices and pricing issues in Asia, product coming from overseas hits a lot more bumps than in the past. Even the upcoming Olympics in Beijing was cited by one manufacturer recently as a cause for concern for getting product in the fourth quarter, as the Chinese government could potentially shut some factories down.
Companies that have built up their manufacturing capabilities here at home have already been reaping the benefits. One cookware company bought a U.S. factory two years ago, and has seen a lot of opportunities open up since then. “The real plus is that it’s made in the U.S.A.,” he said, and retailers like the quick turnaround time.
Manufacturing in the U.S. allows them to do things other companies can’t, said another vendor with a factory here, because other manufacturers who only make products abroad have to order items by the container-load.
So product made close to home becomes a lot more attractive to retailers, who have seen manufacturers absorb price increases in the past and are aware those increases may soon be passed on—if they haven’t been already.
Going local has been a theme for the green movement, especially in food, for the past few years, as buying items produced close to home cuts down on such items as energy and transportation costs. Now a few housewares companies are finding that this strategy can help them forward through a difficult business climate as well. As consumers become aware of their purchases on an environmental level—and realize how much that frying pan traveled to make it into their hands—they may very well pick the one less traveled if given a choice.
Andrea Lillo is the senior editor, housewares. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.