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Nov 17, 2012 02:38 PM

Yes, but where was it made?

I was just looking at some recent activity on an older thread about KA vs Cuisinart. Much of it was about the "made in China" issue. I have noticed an interesting new trend. Retailers proudly say "made in USA" on items made in the USA and label products made in China and various other places with, shall we say "perception issues," "imported."Things made in places deemed suitably "ish," like France or England, get the country mentioned. Places without the perception issues of China and that ilk but not "ish," like Czechoslovakia, get the "imported" tag. A new trend is emerging in which things designed in the USA or a perceived cool place like Australia will say things like "designed in ( insert cool country); imported." When you looked at the label, like Breville, it may have been designed in Australia but it was made in China. They really want to make it hard for you to find out where your product was made. I find it offensive they tout an item as designed in USA (one job) but don't proclaim where it was made (more jobs, presumably). I saw a Mason Cash bowl in a store. On the bottom it says made in China. Go to the website and they proclaim themselves an old British brand and never mention where they are making them. The moral, of course, is understand that a label, even of an old and reputable company, may not mean what you think it does. Reminds me of a guy in New York selling Prada and Gucci at his card table!

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  1. the regulations regarding the labeling of country of origin on a product are pretty clear. long as 51% or more of the total cost of the item is produced in a given country, it bears "made in " that particular country. So if you have, just for discussion's sake, a kitchen scale with 49% of the total manufacturer's cost of the product produced in China (say, the components), but the plastic housing and the labor to assemble the product is done in the US -- then it carries "made in USA". Many times you'll see "assembled in USA from components manufactured in China" -- means that all the pieces were made overseas, but it was assembled in the US...but the labor is less than 51% of the total product cost.

    The rules get messier and messier as manufacturing becomes more and more global...

    1 Reply
    1. Just read the labels and don't take this personally. Things are made in China because it is cheaper to do so. You can't blame the mfg. for wanting to gloss this over.

      I buy made in the U.S.A. whenever it is possible. But it isn't possible to do so for every item.

      1. Here are two links for Made in the USA merchandise. One of them (maybe both) put out a news letter also. They encourage folks to write or submit items Made in USA/America so that they can be included.Enjoy.

        1. there's also a pretty unmistakeable trend right at the moment for "re-shoring" -- folks are finding out that offshore manufacturing isn't all it's cracked up to be for a lot of reasons, and are bringing their manufacturing back to the US...and finding that their cost isn't all that greatly impacted.

          4 Replies
          1. re: sunshine842

            < finding that their cost isn't all that greatly impacted.>

            This is true. While the labor costs are definitely much cheaper in some foreign country. A lot of time, there are hidden cost which show up later -- such as logistic. There are certainly some off-shoring and re-shoring process. It is a complicated issue. Outsourcing is part of our life now, and isn't something can be changed to be honest. The are pretty off-shoring the other way too. Japanese brand cars being made in US. European drug companies established here.

            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

              read the article I linked below -- there's more factors I hadn't even thought about before I read it.

              I also have plenty of former colleagues in various manufacturing industries who've said they're seeing more and more of this.

              1. re: sunshine842

                I know. My company (a very high tech one) has to deal with these issues. In our case, it is not China, but India. Same concept. In our case, it is even worse than having chips and components stuck in custom. The phone calls mentioned in the your article is one of the few "logistic" issues we are facing now. Man, do I hate those 6:30AM call, and I am sure the Indians hate their late evening calls. Phone call is still is a very minor one. There are much more serious ones. We don't call it "frustration" in our company. We call it "growing pain" :)

                Look, here is my take. Outsourcing will stay. I think there are benefits to companies, but I think a lot of companies oversimplified the situation and realize it isn't as nice as they once thought.

                Still, it will happen. If it is not for cost, at the very least for globalization for large companies. That is companies want to have a present in a global way. Same reasons why Japan cars brands like Toyota and Honda have factories in US. It isn't because US labor is cheaper.

          2. Should I worry that the computer that I am using to read this post is 'made in China'?

            4 Replies
            1. re: paulj

              Apple, the highest value company in American history, has most of its products manufactured in China. Go figure.
              In years past when I managed sizeable construction projects, and I had nearly equal competitive bids, I would sometimes inspect their heavy earthmoving equipment as part of my diligence, and in a few cases the tie-breaker was Caterpillar over Komatsu. Both are good brands, but I tend to buy American. If I can. I expect the HP laptop I'm tapping on now was made in China, I don't know. But I like it.

              1. re: Veggo

                steel for construction from China is by reputation a bit more brittle.

                ehh it's all unavoidable mostly. your car or kitchen appliance may be assembled here (or there) but the parts may have been machined here (or there). I give up. the issue of re-shoring is interesting.

                1. re: Veggo

                  <Apple, the highest value company in American history, has most of its products manufactured in China>

                  Apply of course is just one of the many high value companies which off source manufacturing. However, it is also well known the some of reported numbers are exaggerated. In term of value added component, it is much less. The contribution of Chinese labor to an iPhone 3G was $6.5 out of $178. The rest are from Japan, German, Korea, and US. However, manufacturer labor costs does matter.