16 Nov 2004
Toasters &Sandwich Makers(HKTDC Houseware, Vol 01,2005)
Toasted To Perfection
The toaster and its close associate the sandwich maker have long been key, albeit basic, kitchen accessories. Now, however, as Hong Kong manufacturers add new functions, features and styles, this core essential is starting to take pride of place at the forefront of home appliance design.
Perfect, evenly-browned toast is a continual quest for these manufacturers, which is why small kitchen appliance and home environmental products company, Homemax (HK) Ltd, has introduced an electronic compensating function in its new toaster models.
"This function ensures consistent toast browning every time," claims sales and marketing manager Elden Cheung. "Other important features include full-function reheat for bagels, defrost, variable browning, automatic pop-up with extra-high lift, wide slots, and an easy clean slide-out crumb tray."
ISO 9001 and ISO 9002-certified Homemax provides GS and UL approved, two- or four-slice toasters in plastic and metal (including stainless steel). Production takes place at its SGS-accredited, 2,000-worker, 56,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland.
The company's latest two-slice toaster, the 1000W HET-1110, has a metal housing with a convenient side control panel.
"We moved the control panel to the lever side so that all controls are positioned on one face for easy usage," explains Cheung. "Also, the cord wraps easily underneath for handy storage."
Approximately 80% of the company's business is ODM, while a minimum order of one FEU per item can be delivered 45 days after order confirmation. Europe is the biggest market and absorbs 70% of all exports from the company. Other important destinations include the US, South America and Asia.
Meanwhile, toaster and oven toaster specialist, Ny Hang Mfg Co Ltd, also exports worldwide, producing some 350,000 toasters per month at its 1,700 worker, 40,000-square-metre factory in Dongguan.
"We have become a significant toaster manufacturer over the course of the past 11 years. Today, we enjoy a high reputation for designing and marketing quality products," claims marketing manager Pauline Wong. "Our products have CE and GS approvals, and meet UL, cUL, BS and SAA standards."
An OEM and ODM manufacturer, 18-year-old Ny Hang produces for such prestigious labels as Delonghi, Black & Decker, Hamilton Beach, Bush, Micromark, Mistral and Prestige.
The US accounts for about 60% of exports, while other important markets include the UK and Australia, and Wong says that different markets opt for different product styles. "The US likes plastic toasters in white or black, while Europeans generally prefer stainless steel, with the classic retro 1960s look also popular."
This company offers around 10 two- or four-slice toaster models, which include popular functions such as bagel, reheat and defrost.
"Model VE-59, a 230V AC, 1650W 2-in-1 toaster oven, is new and combines the convenience of a two-slice toaster with a full range temperature control oven," says Wong.
The VE-59 also features extra-wide toasting slots, electronically controlled automatic pop-up, bagel and reheat setting, a defrost function, a separate crumb tray and a high-lift facility.
The oven section has a 15-minute timer with automatic shut-off, an oval-shaped tempered glass window, a slide-out rack with drip tray, a baking pan and a separate easy-to-clean crumb tray.
Hong Kong or mainland FOB unit prices for Ny Hang's toasters start from US$4.80 and reach US$27.60 for the stylish, brushed metal model VE-59. A minimum order is one TEU, delivered 30-45 days after order confirmation.
Quality design is equally important to OEM/ODM producer Oxygen Electrical Ltd, with a 10-strong design team that includes five designers in Europe and five on the mainland.
The five-year-old, ISO 9001-certified company offers more than 100 home appliance and audio products designed and developed in-house and produced at factories in Guangdong Province on the mainland.
"Electronically, toasters are a basic kitchen item and so design is very important. They must also be user-friendly and price-competitive," says marketing manager Orchid Yu.
Yu adds stainless steel is the current trend worldwide as it has a stylish and modern look. "For example, our T578 two-slot model with defrost and warm-up function, which costs about US$15 per piece FOB Hong Kong or the Chinese mainland, and our ST 368 four-piece sandwich maker are both stainless steel appliances."
A minimum order is 2,000-3,000 pieces depending on the item, delivered 60 days after confirmation of the first order and 45 days for re-orders. Oxygen's major markets are the US (50%), Europe (30%) and Asia-Pacific (10%).
Auyeung Wai, manager of three-year-old home appliance company Chuzeng Electrical Products Ltd, says Europe is not only an important export market but also a major influencer of design trends. "Europe leads in home appliance design requirements, with the US market usually following the trend 2-3 years later."
Manufacturing primarily for OEM customers, the company produces 120,000 units each month (including toasters, electric stoves, pizza ovens, hotplates, cup warmers and candle warmers) at a 70,000-square-foot mainland factory in Shenzhen. Toasters account for some 25% of Chuzeng's business.
A minimum order is 5,000 pieces delivered 45 days after order confirmation. Materials are sourced largely from the mainland.
"We offer mainly two-slice plastic body toaster models such as the CT-11 with a cool-touch feature and wide slots," explains Auyeung.
Chuzeng can also include added options such as bagel heating and defrost. "In the past couple of years demand has been for white, metal toasters. Now, however, there is growing demand for the cyber look, with silver colours becoming more popular."
With colours and design attributes on the move, Hong Kong manufacturers continue to commit to quality, design, competitive prices and perfect toast every time.
WRITTEN BY SANDRA JENNER
Kaeast Enterprises Ltd