China¡¯s White Goods Industry

 

Market Profile

While the overall market for white goods rose 34% between 1996 and 2002, this is not a fast-growing market by Chinese standards. More and more purchases were for upgrades and niche items and competition for domestic market share is among the most intense in contemporary China.

 

Washing Machines

Now a US$2 billion a year market in China. As recently as the mid-1990s, 90% of urban households had access to washing machines, but just 14% of rural households. By 2003, that figure had grown to 92% and 29% respectively. Local brands dominate 30-60% of the market, depending on the province. Most washing machines sold in China are of the twin-tub variety, but at least a generation behind the type used in most foreign markets. By 2003, China was the world¡¯s largest washing machine producer, with an output of 15 million units a year.

Foreign market players include GE, Electrolux, Whirlpool and Panasonic, but the big players are Shangdong Xioya and Wuxi Little Swan, with 14% and 13% of the market respectively.

 

Refrigerators

If competition in the washing machine market is getting fierce, the US $2.8 billion refrigerator market is even tougher. Qingdai-based Haier, with 53% of the market in 2001 (and 5.3% of global output), was far and away the market leader while the biggest foreign-invested marketp layers were Suzhou Samsung and Electrolux Sino-Italian (Changsha) with 3.4% and 1.5% of the market, respectively.

 

Kitchen Appliances

China produces 70% of the world¡¯s kitchen appliances in 2003 and 40% of its microwave ovens. About 60% (or US$2.45 billion) was produced in the Pearl River Delta, especially the city of Shunde but also Foshan, Zhongshan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan. Shunde is home to Galanz, the world¡¯s biggest manufacturer of microwave ovens, GD Midea, the world¡¯s largest maker of rice cookers and electric fans and Guangdong Domlin, the world¡¯s No. 1 manufacturer of cooking kettles.

 

Trade Figures

China exported US3.7 billion in kitchen appliances in 2003, up 32% over 2002. Most were produced for international brands and about a third went to the EU, China¡¯s largest export market for white goods.