01.Where are your products made?
Country of origin has changed a lot in the past 50 years or so.
For food products, country of origin labelling is mandatory, and CHOICE has campaigned to close loopholes and reduce the confusion around country of origin claims, which are regularly identified as major consumer concerns.
However, the issues are different for major manufactured products.
CHOICE lists country of origin on whitegoods and appliances and other non-food products due to our member wishes. We do this for major products such as washing machines, dishwashers and fridges as well as some other products, when the claim is listed.
Where they are not listed, we usually put the phrase 'not stated'.
Global manufacturing process
Where a product claims a country of origin these days, the product may have been assembled in the claimed country. However it’s unlikely all the items that went into that product came from the one country.
Due to inexpensive labour in other countries and manufacturer contracts for materials changing on a product by product basis, and sometimes monthly basis, you are more likely to see one product assembled from materials from many countries.
For instance, in one of our fridges we can see three different countries of origin listed:
- The compressor from Thailand
- Assembled in Mexico
- The company headquarters located in New Zealand
- The sheet metal that forms the insulating exterior may be manufactured in China using Australian coal
- And the insulation foam may come from Malaysia, made from oil in Saudi Arabia
The plastic inserts for fridge shelves may come from another country, as may the glass shelves themselves and chiller baskets and crisper drawers. The paint to finish the product, the copper tubing that guides refrigerant, as well as the refrigerant itself, may come from different countries.
While the country of origin claim may be there, in many ways it's only window dressing and largely irrelevant these days. It's unlikely that you'll find a major product manufactured that is made wholly in one country. If manufacturers were required to put where all the different parts were made, it would take up an extra couple of pages in a manual.
CHOICE doesn't adhere to the belief that a product claiming to be made in one country is any better than one claiming another. This is because we see varying performance across a number of different brands, and reliability variances among them.
We also followed up on an example of one dishwasher from one manufacturer, just to see how far the components come from;
CHOICE informs people of how reliable a brand is from your input into our product reliability survey, which takes into account your experiences with the brands you own.