Whether you're interested in finding out the manufacturing origins of a particular product for the sake of quality, ethics or environmental impact, more and more people these days are asking the question 'where does it come from?'
While this can be answered easily enough for food products, it gets a bit trickier when you're talking about the big-ticket household items, like fridges, ovens and, of course, dishwashers. So we're here to help break the process down for you.
CHOICE lists the country of origin for many products at the request of our members. We do this in the tables of our dishwasher reviews, washing machine reviews and fridge reviews among others, when the claim is listed. Where it's not, we use the phrase 'not stated'.
Where a product claims a country of origin these days, the product may have been assembled in the claimed country – but 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 – and sometimes monthly – basis, you're more likely to see one product assembled using materials from many countries.
For instance, in one of our fridges we can see three different countries of origin listed:
- Compressor from Thailand
- Assembled in Mexico, and
- Company headquarters located in New Zealand
But volumes can be read from what is not labelled:
- Sheet metal that forms the insulating exterior may be manufactured in China, smelted using Australian coal
- Insulation foam may come from Malaysia, made from Saudi Arabian oil
- Plastic inserts for fridge shelves may come from another country, as may the glass shelves themselves, the chiller baskets and the crisper drawers, and
- The paint to finish the product, the copper refrigerant tubing , and even 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: it's unlikely that you'll find a major product that is made wholly in one country. If manufacturers were required to state where all the different parts were made, it would take up an extra couple of pages in a manual.
CHOICE doesn't believe a product claiming to be made in one country is any better than one made in another. This is because we see varying performance across a number of different brands, and differences in reliability as well.
'China Company A' wants to make a dishwasher. They contact eight different companies in five different countries to supply the components. Germany for Basket powder coating. Wires for the Heater from the USA. Dishwasher Basket from the UK. The Inverter comes from Italy. The Water inlet valve and Detergent dispenser from China. The Motor - Steel comes from Nine factories in three different countries make the components: Ten components to make a dishwasher get shipped back to 'China Company A'. 'China Company A' assembles dishwasher and ships to Australia.