Practicality and aesthetics top R&D priorities as makers fortify foothold in key destinations.
China suppliers of bathroom and kitchen sinks are keeping R&D grounded on the requirements of traditional export destinations, namely the Asia-Pacific region, the US and Europe. By increasing options for these areas, suppliers are confident of achieving double-digit sales growth this year.
|Foshan Kiwi's model H9445 is a double-bowl kitchen sink with a waste bin.|
Noting the first market’s high regard for practical features, bathroom sink makers are banking on conventional colors and designs to increase penetration of the Asia-Pacific. Models bound for the area are normally in white as these go well with different interior styles. In terms of shapes, most are oval or round.
As regards kitchen sinks, waste bins are being incorporated to boost functionality. Adding to user-friendliness are storage slots for knives and chopping boards.
Foshan Dasen Kitchenware Co. Ltd is among the companies offering designs with such features.
The supplier’s DS-8550 model, for instance, has a storage rack for knives and space for a cutting board. Another product, the DS-9546 model, comes with built-in holders for knives and scissors.
The maker has also released double-bowl sinks with 20 to 30 percent more capacity than older variants. In addition, the R series has smoother corners for easier cleaning.
For the US and Europe, upgrades zero in on visual appeal instead of functionality. A similar trend is apparent in models for high-end markets in the Middle East.
Colored bathroom sinks for these destinations are increasing. Yellow, blue and black are some of the popular options. For greater visual appeal, trees, flowers and other artworks are being painted or carved onto designs.
For kitchen models, makers targeting Europe are rolling out handmade constructions. Such products are priced at least five times higher than machine-welded pieces but are seamless and more durable.
In terms of quotes, suppliers of bathroom and kitchen sinks are expected to implement increases in the next six months due to the rising cost of raw materials. Most, however, intend to contain adjustments within 5 percent.
Calcined kaolin is among the manufacturing inputs causing concern. Rates for a ton jumped from a range of $350 to $560 in September 2010 to $400 to $650 at the end of March 2011.
The cost of 304 stainless steel has gone up as well. In March, one ton went for $3,560 to $3,730, at least 8 percent higher than levels in September last year.
China is home to more than 500 makers of bathroom sinks. Ceramic designs account for more than 90 percent of output, up from its estimated 80 percent share in February 2010.
About 40 percent of models are above-the-counter types, while 30 percent are undermount sinks. Wall-hung variants constitute the rest.
Round and oval sinks are the mainstream designs, constituting roughly 70 percent of output. Quadrate pieces make up 25 percent, and irregular shapes account for the rest.
Low-end designs are usually round or oval with a white finish. These go for $10 to $40.
Higher-priced sinks are available in a wider range of constructions and hues. Those reaching $80 include quadrate constructions, while more expensive variants comprise irregular and novelty pieces. In addition, handmade patterns are an option.
Glass and natural stone sinks are also offered. These start at $30.
The former comes in colorless or colorful tempered glass. Natural stone bathroom sinks, on the other hand, are made of marble, granite or quartz.
The US absorbed more than 30 percent of China’s bathroom sink exports last year. About 30 percent was sent to the Asia-Pacific, while the rest went to Europe.
|Lanpai’s model 9145 is a kitchen sink made of 201 or 304 stainless steel.|
The line is available from more than 500 companies in China. Dominating the industry’s output are stainless steel constructions with one or two bowls. Triple-bowl types constitute less than 5 percent of the yield.
Priced $20 to $60, low-end models are made of 201 or 202 stainless steel that is 0.6 to 0.8mm-thick. These can be single or double-bowl pieces.
Upward to $200, designs with two basins are the norm. Midrange kitchen sinks employ materials similar to those of low-end versions or the 304 grade. The metal sheets utilized are between 0.8 and 1mm-thick.
Designs at the higher end of the price spectrum are made of 304 stainless steel. Double-bowl variants dominate the selection, but models with three basins are also available.
China-made kitchen sinks have a polished or brushed finish. The latter has become popular in recent years as it makes surfaces easier to clean and less susceptible to scratching.
Note: This article "Bathroom & kitchen sinks R&D geared toward traditional markets" was originally published by Global Sources, a leading business-to-business media company and a primary facilitator of trade with China manufacturers and India suppliers, providing essential sourcing information to volume buyers through our e-magazines, trade shows and industry research.
All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.
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