Almost eight in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one, according to a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports. And more than 60 percent say they’re even willing to pay 10 percent more for it.
But in our increasingly complex global economy, how much meaning does a label stating “Made in America” still hold?
Some iconic American products, from the Apple iPhone to Cuisinart food processors, have little or no manufacturing presence on these shores, while many foreign makers have invested heavily in manufacturing plants in the United States.
But now, because of a wave of “reshoring,” many appliance manufacturers and other companies are moving significant operations back to the U.S. Since 2010, about 300 companies have returned here, according to the Reshoring Initiative, an industry-supported not-for-profit that focuses on bringing manufacturing jobs to the U.S.
Consumer Reports offers this overview of famous consumer brands and looks at just how American they are.
Headquarters: Louisville, Ky. Since 2009, GE has invested $1 billion to bring some of its manufacturing home to the U.S., with most of the investment going to Appliance Park, a 900-acre facility in Louisville. That’s led to 3,000 new manufacturing jobs. GE’s qualified “Made in America” label tells how much U.S. content is in each appliance. For example, the company says its bottom-freezer refrigerators comprise 87 percent domestic parts.
Headquarters: Benton Harbor, Mich. It’s the world’s largest appliance manufacturer; its brands include Amana, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid and Maytag. It’s also the leading producer of U.S. appliance factory jobs, with eight factories nationwide employing 15,000 workers. About 80 percent of Whirlpool appliances sold in the U.S. are made here. Some foreign components are used, but Whirlpool’s label doesn’t indicate how much.
Headquarters: Stockholm, Sweden. Frigidaire, whose label says “Built with American pride,” was founded in Fort Wayne, Ind, in 1916. It remained a U.S.-owned company until 1986, when it was purchased by the Swedish multinational Electrolux (which, Consumer Reports notes, is also in the process of acquiring GE Appliances). Electrolux has been moving its manufacturing to Asia, Latin America and other low-cost areas, but Frigidaire still maintains five plants in the U.S., including one in Memphis, Tennessee, that opened in late 2013.
Headquarters: Cupertino, Calif. Though a few Apple products are American-made, including the MacPro computer manufactured in Austin, Texas, the bulk of its manufacturing happens in China. Apple claims that its innovation has produced more than 1 million U.S. jobs. But only 66,000 are actual Apple employees, including 30,000 retail workers.
Headquarters: Valley City, Ohio. Troy-Bilt’s label, which says, “Rooted in America,” plays up its agrarian origins. In 1937, it revolutionized the rototiller, which is still a signature product, along with lawn mowers, leaf blowers and other outdoor power equipment. It was bought by MTD, a Cleveland-based manufacturer, in 2001. Its five U.S. factories use a combination of domestic and foreign parts.