In the end it always comes back to China

Someone ran a project by me last week. The person wants to source camping chairs. But the catch is they don’t want them from China because of China’s problems with child labour. Hmmm, I thought to myself that could be tough seeing as product in some consumer goods categories e.g. toys, outdoor equipment are almost exclusively made in China. In fact I recently saw one stat from a prominent toy industry blogger who said that about 85% of the world’s toys are made in China. That is a bit higher than I thought but it still does not surprise me. That’s China.

Anyway, as I usually do I went on alibaba to do some research. Let me make it clear here that I do not think alibaba is a good place to source vendors. But it is a great place to do research and that is how I like to use it. So and did a search of camping chairs and . worldwide 1,248 suppliers came up. Then I did an advanced search restricting my search to China and 1130 suppliers came up. That means that just 118 suppliers worldwide, as listed on alibaba, are not Chinese. I then restricted the search to India and just 16 suppliers came up. But half of those list camping chairs made in China. Moral of the story: it could be very hard to find a non-Chinese supplier of cast iron or aluminum folding camping chairs,

Of course there are countries other than China where camping chairs are made, the aforementioned India, Turkey et al. Of those 16 India vendors, for example, half of them do produce locally I saw. But then you have to ask yourself how those vendors are set up to compete with China on price and quality ? I suspect the chairs are either very pricey, compared to China, or the quality is very bad. In other words, you really don’t have any choice but China for some of these product categories if you have margins to meet and/or big QTYs.

And it will still be this way for many years to come.

Canton Fair 2007


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