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International buyers looking for green household products at Hong Kong Houseware Fair

Environmentally-friendly household products are in higher demand by international houseware buyers this year, according to findings of an industry survey conducted during the Hong Kong Houseware Fair 2006 (April 21 - 24).

Over two-third of buyers interviewed at the fair said environmental protection had become a key concern in sourcing. 74% - 10% more than last year - said they would source more green products in the next three years

On average, 38% of the houseware items sourced were green products. However, nearly 40% of the interviewed buyers said they still found it difficult to source green products in the Asia Pacific region.

According to interviewed buyers, green products refer to those that use environmentally friendly packaging, recycled materials, lead-free and halogen-free materials and are efficient in energy consumption.

The survey conducted by Oracle Added Value was commissioned by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (TDC). A total of 415 exhibitors and 706 buyers were interviewed.

Respondents are confident over the market outlook for 2006. Nearly two-third of them said the houseware industry would perform better or slightly better than 2005. The rest of the respondents expect business to be similar to 2005.

In particular, buyers targeting the Asia Pacific region are optimistic about market growth.

Buyers also expect emerging markets (Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Latin America, India, Africa and Middle East), Japan and the Chinese mainland to have the biggest growth in retail markets. The average growth rate in these markets is 19%, which is higher than the 16% expected growth rate in the US and Western Europe.

Branded houseware products particularly for home decorations, furniture and health & personal care items were also more popular in 2006.

Licensed characters the greatest hits

Besides pastel, metallic, white and bright colors were most popular for tableware and home decorations. "Raw and natural style", "East-meet-West" and "Retro" designs were chosen as the trendiest in 2006.

Buyers also predicted that environmentally-friendly and antibacterial materials would be popular in making cookware and tableware.

The majority of interviewed buyers were also looking for household products, especially bathroom accessories and home decorations, with licensed characters such as classic cartoon characters and movie characters.

Organised by the TDC, the annual Hong Kong Houseware Fair is the largest of its kind in Asia. This year, over 2,300 companies from 36 countries and regions took part in the four-day fair.

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Buyers' Quotes

(1) Ryozo Kimura, Director, Home-Japan, Disney Consumer Products, Japan

"The retail sales of household products in Japan are growing along with the economic recovery and our consumers are looking for more creative items. This is my first visit to the fair. I've come with our licensees who are interested in various home items such as mugs, tableware and kitchenware. The Hong Kong Houseware Fair is a concentration of western and Asian cultures with so many products to choose and compare. Everything is good here - from product design and variety to supporting services. The exhibition venue's convenient location also allows us to do some market research in the city's shopping districts. I expect to come again next year with more licensees."

(2) A.W. Nsouli, Est. A.W. Salah Nsouli, Lebanon

"This is really a good fair with a great variety of quality products. The exhibitors have produced some nice houseware products with innovative design and creative packaging. I've already placed orders for several items such as ceramic tableware and silverware, and hope to do more deals in the next couple of days. Established in 1977, my company is an importer and wholesaler of various household products, targeting the medium to higher-end market."

(3) Ms Janina Stepniewska, Director/President, Trading Company Sonic, Poland

"I have been coming to this fair for a few years to source good quality stainless steel kitchenware to import to Poland. Quality is very important to us and we find many exhibitors at the fair - usually with factories on the Chinese mainland - can provide the high standard we require for our business. Every year we find there are more people attending the fair so, for buyers, it is a great opportunity to view a wide variety of products and compare them, all under one roof. It also means we can explore new trends before they reach Europe and develop relationships with manufacturers through face-to-face contact."

For press enquiries, please contact Mr Lawrence Yau at 2584 4510 or Ms Beatrice Lam at 2584 4049.

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Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council