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 - 'but 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 country of origin on many products at the request of our members. 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 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
- 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 using Australian coal.
- Insulation foam may come from Malaysia, made from oil in Saudi Arabia.
- Plastic inserts for fridge shelves may come from another country, as may the glass shelves themselves, the chiller baskets and the 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 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.
Is one country's manufacturing better than another?
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.
How reliable is reliable?
Part of our work here at CHOICE is about sharing lessons we've learned from our members about how reliable a brand is, gathered from your input into our product reliability survey. This survey takes into account your real-life experiences with the brands you own, giving the rest of us the facts with none of the spin.