10 April 2008
Cooking Convenience(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 02,2008)
Electrical Kitchen Appliances
User-friendly Multifunctions are key ingredients
Makers of electrical kitchen appliances share many concerns with consumers using their products. They, too, want to ease kitchen workloads, facilitate time-saving, conserve counter space and encourage healthy eating.
New blenders, grinders, choppers, food processors and other devices emerging from the factories operated by Hong Kong companies bring precisely such benefits to kitchens around the world.
"Market demand continues to grow," says Newway Electrical Industries Ltd Marketing Manager Patty Chan. "We always meet buyers asking for something different, and we usually succeed by offering them new products at attractive prices."
There is a strong trend towards multifunction kitchen appliances that prove useful and convenient while saving precious counter space. In response, Newway is working on developing innovative items such as coffee makers combined with toaster or radio functions.
"We also look for opportunities to use different materials, including more glass, stainless steel and wood, but plastic remains important," Ms Chan notes. "Some new products may combine stainless steel and wood or glass."
Newway offers a wide range of appliances including blenders, grinders, mixers, choppers, juicers, steamers and openers. One example is a versatile food processor (model FP-719B) comprising a 1.7-litre blender jug with a safety-lock lid, a measuring cup, a 2.3-litre bowl and a powerful 700W motor.
"This product combines blending, slicing, chopping, mixing and whisking," advises Ms Chan. "It helps with the preparation of many foods through different accessories and its various functions. The jugs and bowls can be in glass or plastic, depending on the customer's needs and price requirements."
Another hot seller is a blender (model BL-9) with two speed settings, a pulse function and a 1.5-litre transparent jug. The stainless-steel blade detaches for easy cleaning, while grinding and cheese grating mills are optional. "This model, already popular in plastic, is fast becoming popular in stainless steel, too," Ms Chan says.
Meanwhile, a coffee grinder (model CG-101) that handles enough for 2-12 cups will appeal to lovers of the aromatic drink. Its variable-grind selector offers choices ranging from coarse to fine espresso.
"Buyers appreciate the big bean-hopper and removable ground-coffee holder," says Ms Chan, adding that the model does well with premiums customers. "They like its design and attractive price and many find it suits the gifts market. Also, for promotional purposes, we can easily silk-screen print logos."
Newway supplies major markets in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Russia. "Some fast-developing countries such as Brazil and India have strong needs for kitchen appliances," remarks Ms Chan.
Such products are also the speciality of Anex Electrical Co Ltd, which produces kettles, coffee makers, toasters, blenders, food processors, juicers, electric knives, waffle-makers and other worktop items.
"Kitchen appliances account for about 70% of our business," says Senior Marketing Executive Alice Yau. "We look in three directions for the best designs: we have an R&D department at our factory, we also consult with overseas design teams, and we draw upon the skills of Hong Kong design houses."
Among the company's new offerings are a 300W, multipurpose hand blender (model KB-102) with a pulse control switch and a durable, low-noise DC motor. Accessories include a whisk attachment, a chopper attachment, a chopping bowl, a 450ml mixer-beaker and even a wall mount. Everything except the motor housing is dishwasher-safe.
A stainless-steel blending arm works equally well with boiling liquids. "Whether it is hot or cold doesn't matter," Ms Yau says. "Just plug in the blender and use it. There's no standby time."
A safety laboratory at the factory helps to shorten lead times at Anex, whose major markets are the Middle East, South America and Europe.
Cooking appliances are also available at Wang Chun Industrial Ltd, whose latest highlights include a 180W electric hand-mixer (model R-914) with a stand that also supports beaters and dough-hook attachments.
"The mixer's housing is plastic, while the beaters and hooks are chrome-plated," explains Managing Assistant Johnny Choy. "Some cooking ingredients are harder to mix than others so the mixer has five speeds."
Another hot item is a 120W electric knife (model R-0119A) with two stainless steel blades for normal use and two others for cutting frozen food. An open-end design makes its 27.9cm-long plastic handle easy to grip, while the normal-use blades are 28cm in length.
As a safety feature to prevent overheating, the knife works continuously for a maximum of 15 minutes and then needs recharging. A wall-hanger supported by screws holds the knife and blades when they are not in use.
"We create our products in all colours, depending on our customers' wishes," Mr Choy says, adding that Wang Chun's products are especially popular in Europe.
Overall, industry insiders note an increased demand for electrical kitchen appliances, which consumers in many markets now tend to change every 2-3 years compared with 5-10 years previously.
This is hardly surprising given how Hong Kong manufacturers are always trying to innovate and cook up wonderful recipes for success.
TEXT BY JOHN CAIRNS