When we evaluated dozens of manufacturers from different countries (including France, US, Germany and China), it wasn’t easy to find a partner that had experience manufacturing the type of products we needed and could bring our product design to life. Some of them were inexperienced with our specifications, while others charged almost double our current rates to implement our designs.
After much research and many meetings, however, we found a reputable manufacturer based in China that had the experience, certifications, and fair pricing that we required. They supported us in creating multiple iterations and followed our specifications to the letter, exercising quality control and standardized manufacturing processes along the way.
The result is kitchen knives that outperform our competitors, withstand the test of time and cost less than overpriced knives out there (i.e. higher quality at a lower price).
Note: We manufacture our products in China, but we design our knives in the US and source our materials from Japan.
But... Aren't Chinese Products Low-Quality?
Consumers often associate China-made products with bad quality and cheap materials—understandably so. It’s a reputation that has followed them even as things have changed over the decades. However, the truth is that today's reality is different from old stereotypes.
“Chinese products are low quality.”
This is the most common misconception about Chinese products. Most consumers stray away from China-made products fearing that they’ll underperform and fall behind expectations. In some cases this can be true, but Chinese manufacturing is so extensive that it’d be inaccurate to generalize so broadly.
Nowadays, top companies are sourcing their products from China. The best example is Apple. Their iPhone is renowned for its quality, state-of-the-art technology and luxurious feel, yet most people wouldn’t imagine that the device they love is made in China. And just like Apple, popular brands like Nike, Lenovo, Samsonite and DJI manufacture their products in China. This is proof that quality isn’t determined by a product’s origin country, but by the company that stands behind it.
A good company will make sure that the manufacturer they partner with has a long history of experience, operates with high integrity and has the necessary certifications to back it up.
In our case, we’re proud to have found a partner manufacturer that:
- Follows legal and ethical practices
- Passes regular plant inspections and unannounced audits
- Tests their products continuously to pass quality checks
- Meets environmental guidelines and regulations
- Complies with strict quality control standards
Not only have we traveled to meet them in person and seen firsthand how they operate, but they also have been certified by internationally recognized organizations. Their certifications include:
- ISO 9001 (international standard that certifies adherence to quality control principles)
- ISO 14001 (international standard that certifies adherence to environmental regulations)
- NSF (checks for health and safety standards through product testing and facility inspections)
- Business Social Compliance Initiative - BSCI (workplace standard that certifies ethical and legal supply chain practices)
- FDA (enforcement of food-safety regulations)
- LFGB (enforcement of food-safety regulations)
A Changing Reputation
More people are starting to realize the truth about Chinese manufacturing. While there are China-made products that do lack quality (which also applies to any sourcing country), top manufacturers are in China because they have a core advantage: experience.
Since China deals with 28.7% of the world’s manufacturing, they have a skilled workforce, good infrastructure and experience dealing with all types of client needs. Whatever special request a company may have, China is the best bet to fulfill it.
Moreover, they offer lower costs due to the sheer amount of volume they handle and their labor market. For some companies this means higher margins and, for others, it means passing on the savings to their customers—or both.
As people start to realize that lower costs doesn’t mean lower quality, more brands are trusting China manufacturers with their product production process.
But... Do Lower Costs Imply Unethical Working Conditions?
Undoubtedly there are cases where workers operate in bad conditions but this is no longer common. As time has passed and Chinese regulation has become tighter, compensation has become fairer and more factories have continued to improve the way they operate.
Not all Chinese companies operate like sweatshops and, with China’s strong economic position, labor is increasingly becoming more Westernized. Moreover, international companies are now going for reputable manufacturers that can show they follow ethical labor practices—and thus avoid the bad apples out there.
For example, our partner manufacturer is certified and audited by the BSCI regularly. By monitoring the supply chain, we ensure that our manufacturer is following legal workplace standards and treating workers ethically.
Buying China-made products is not as bad as the old negative stereotypes make it seem, which is why major companies like Apple and Nike rely on Chinese manufacturing today. If you choose brands that produce high-quality products and don’t cut corners when it comes to processes and material selection, then you’ll be fine.
At Mëren, every product goes through an iterative process until we nail a final version that we can be proud to stand behind. This means picking the best materials (e.g. Japanese AUS-10 steel) and constantly testing product performance. To top it off, our low costs allow us to create incredible products at fair prices and, consequently, pass on the savings to our customers.
Whether you’re buying from us or from another company that partners with Chinese manufacturers, it’s more important to focus on your trust in that company than on the origin country of their products.