Elevating product performance remains the priority for China suppliers of cookware sets. At most companies, R&D efforts are steered toward improving durability, safety and heat distribution.
In this regard, manufacturers are boosting output of porcelain enamel-coated pots and pans. A nonstick material, the glass enamel is often applied on metal bases, including cast iron and steel, making them resistant to abrasion and corrosion. It likewise serves as a protective layer that prevents food from coming into contact with the core inputs, which may lead to contamination. Further, the coating yields a shiny and vibrant finish that allows for easy and thorough cleaning.
Many aluminum pieces are anodized as well for increased strength. The process also adds color and luster to the exterior for enhanced visual appeal.
The abovementioned processes, however, reduce the thermal conductivity of models. To address this, suppliers are intensifying the adoption of copper as base material. Apart from facilitating quick and even heat distribution, the metal does not take a long time to cool down.
The majority of cookware manufacturers in China carry out nearly all procedures in-house to control quality better. In fact, several industry makers operate automated coating lines. Some well-established enterprises are even equipping their factories with smelting equipment, which can handle six tons of aluminum in a single run.
The US and the EU are the primary export markets. To meet these locations' safety requirements, companies are utilizing FDA-approved inputs. A number of suppliers have also begun subjecting coated parts to salt-spray tests to ensure suitable rust resistance.
Cookware sets from China usually consist of casseroles, steamers, and frying and saucepans. Products are marketed in collections containing three to more than 20 pieces. The lids are often part of the item count. In general, the type and quantity of models can be buyer-specified.
Most products have bodies made of stainless steel, cast iron, aluminum and copper. The first material, together with tempered glass, is likewise adopted for covers.
For handles, the popular options are Bakelite, silicone, glass and metal. These components are welded or attached via rivets.
Nonstick coatings are standard inclusions as well. Versions from international providers such as DuPont, Whitford, Ilag and Daikin are widely used, although some manufacturers employ domestic variants for less expensive pieces.
The type and thickness of the base material are the primary performance determinants for China-made cookware sets.
Stainless steel continues to be the most common option as it withstands scratches and dents, does not react to food, and is convenient to clean. Being a poor thermal conductor, the metal is brazed with aluminum or copper for better heat distribution.
Mainstream stainless steel cookware adopts the 201, 202 or 304 grade variants. Sets contain pieces that are 0.4 to 0.6mm thick, although more expensive versions can reach 3.8mm. In terms of finish, sanding and mirror polishing are typical.
Aluminum is often utilized for frying pans, casseroles and stockpots. Besides being lightweight, the material spreads heat rapidly and evenly. Designs, however, are not scratch-resistant and require anodizing to enhance durability.
Standard aluminum models are made of A000 or A00 types with a thickness ranging from 0.7 to 3.8mm. The metal can be sourced domestically or overseas, the latter costing 20 percent more. Several pieces also have two to four layers of nonstick coating.
Pots, skillets and pans in cast iron, meanwhile, take time to warm up but are able to retain the temperature for extended periods. As such, they are suitable for cooking at high heat.
In general, products come in HT20 and HT22 iron that are 1.5 to 2mm thick, and SP12 and SPCC variants measuring 0.4 to 2mm. The metal is mostly procured locally.
To ensure safety, suppliers submit samples to third-party testing organizations, including SGS, BV and Intertek, for analysis. Resultantly, the majority of cookware sets from China have LFGB and FDA approval.
Export prices are anticipated to rise between 5 and 10 percent in the next half-year due mainly to swelling material costs. To illustrate, rates for 304 stainless steel climbed to $3,300 per ton in February from $3,240 the previous month. Outlay for A00 aluminum increased from February 2010's $2,430 per ton to $2,550 a year later. Companies expect this upward trend to continue througout 2011.
Note:This article 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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