While there are several hurdles in the domestic bakeware segment currently, industry experts that GOURMET INSIDER® spoke to said that the American-made message resonates with consumers, which continues to be one of the advantages to manufacturing bakeware in the U.S.
“It has continued to get easier to sell an American-made product versus one that is not made domestically. Consumers don’t seem to be shopping on price anymore— once they hear something is made here, it seems to be an easy choice for them. And, consumers like that their money is going to the U.S. economy, especially after seeing hard economic years,” said John Bundy III, director, USA Pan.
Jean Horvath, managing director of Nucu, a line of cookware and bakeware manufactured by Vollrath in the U.S., noted that Millennials have been instrumental in reigniting the spark for American-made products.
“They know what they want and are educated and knowledgeable consumers. Many grew up with parents that talked about the value of products made here. This is different from previous generations where there was an explosion of products coming from other countries offering choice, value and price,” she said.
Domestic goods have always carried a higher price for the most part, however, it has been offset by the quality and craftsmanship that the products exhibit. This still rings true today, vendors said, and many have their own features meant to highlight those qualities.
Bundy explained that USA Pan’s folded points and heavy weight are two ways the company touts this through its supply chain.
“The folded corners on our bakeware shows that they are made by American workers that are following complex processes. It shows off the quality of the products as well as the craftmanship. And the weight immediately translates into durability, which is important in bakeware. People want to know that they are investing in quality and not something that is going to need to be replaced after a year,” he said.
Jennifer Dalquist, evp/sales and marketing, Nordic Ware, noted that the handcrafted appeal of U.S.-made bakeware strikes a chord with consumers and retailers.
“Consumers and retail buyers alike appreciate the fit and finish of a U.S.-made product. Retail buyers who tour our factory never cease to be amazed by the activity in a factory. They come in with the expectation of seeing automated equipment stamping out parts but are instead greeted by more than 300 hard-working human beings who are busy as bees, crafting our products,” she said.
Like USA Pan, the company also makes sure to carry the handcrafted touch through its manufacturing process to the finished product.
“Our design team also pays special attention to subtle-yet-significant details when they put the finishing touches on our items to give them a small-batch, handcrafted feel. Our Heirloom cookie stamps and some of the items in our Scandinavian heritage collection such as the Krumkake and Rosette irons are a great example of this, with hand-turned wooden handles,” said Dalquist.
And, noted Horvath, purchasing domestically has also become about making the consumer feel good, too, especially when a company showcases programs that give back to the community or investments in processes that aid with environmental concerns.
“The maker movement isn’t just about the product, it is about the experience of the purchase and using it. Customers want to know that the maker is invested beyond the business transaction,” she said.