Canton Fair: A Tipping Point for Global Sourcing?

The 133rd Canton Fair will open in April as China Factory output accelerates, supporting an upturn in China Sourcing but does demand remain subdued?  

Dogged for months by shortages of raw materials, labour instability, a difficult Covid policy, quickening inflation and weakened consumer demand, the world’s industrial engine is still struggling to fire on all cylinders. For many weeks, anticipation has been running hot that China’s reopening would bring a tangible economic lift across Asia and perhaps the rest of the world. That day seems to have finally arrived, with purchasing managers’ indices — especially from China, but also beyond — showing the first glimpses that the World’s second-largest economy will start to lift orders in other corners of the globe.   

The Canton Fair comes at a time when China is reopening to the West post Covid and notably a combination of raw material price softening and low container rates, put the spotlight back on ‘cost’ for buyers where this is now their sole focus in the short to medium term.  The biennial trade fair is one of the high points of global trade events and is expected to welcome over 25,000 exhibitors and buyers from all over the world.   

Is Demand Picking Up?  

Although there is an expectation that this Canton Fair will be large (Buyers and importers will no doubt be chomping at the bit to get out and see some product rather than at a distance!),  what are the factors that will dictate the appetite to get out on that plane?   

1.Consumer Confidence , as a general trend, has certainly softened across many markets due to inflationary pressures which have hit discretionary spend.  Every market has its own domestic     economics that need to be assessed. There is however data coming out that points to a less bleak outlook than initially expected (UK is not likely to be in a recession in 2023 as initially thought) and    this could lead to a pick-up in confidence going deeper into the year.  


rates have dropped to Pre Pandemic levels. A year ago container ships were queuing for births in ports to unload their cargoes, shippers were bumping containers and contract rates  were not worth the paper they were written on. Container rates were at an all-time high and shipping companies took full advantage of the market impact (note the amount of blank shippings to prop up the market).  A year on ships are being moth balled and sailings cancelled as demand has plummeted and spots rates dropped to Pre pandemic levels. The recent conference in the USA  Davos by the Sea brought into clear focus the strained relationships and tensions between shippers and shipping line owners. 

Inflationary cost

pressures on Brands, Retailers, Wholesalers and Importers. Pressure on cost has returned in many companies to counter inflationary pressures forcing prices up in front of the  consumer.  As we lived through the turmoil of the pandemic, the overriding issues for supply chain teams was to get product on shelf. As demand softens and inflationary cost pressures build in  companies the focus for sourcing teams has shifted back to a focus on cost.  Will China be a main beneficiary of this?

The Reopening of China

Has been rapid, and appears to be have weathered any Covid storm (we did not see any interruptions to factories even post CNY).  It is seen as a potential catalyst to energise economies across Asia and the wider world back into growth.  China factory output  has expanded at the fastest pace in more than a decade.  The sudden access to this market could  not come any sooner.

Inventory Levels 

Are still high across some sectors. This is impacting buying decisions as companies look to manage higher stock levels due to large buys in 2021/22 and weaker demand.  It is key that this stock is sold through to set companies up for the remainder of the year.


The Canton Fair appears to be aligned to the reopening of China, and the expectation has to be that many people are anticipating travelling out to Guangzhou and further afield within China to see suppliers for the first time in 3 years.

The need to drive cost benefit to the bottom line is supported by vastly reduced shipping costs compared with the past 18 months and China is still well placed to off cost advantages.   The Year of the Rabbit may just be as prosperous and lucky as intended!

For more information on the Canton Fair, China and other sourcing markets please drop us a line at

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COP27: A Success or Failure?

COP27 ended a day later than planned with a mix of frustration and hope. In the concluding part of our review of COP27, we look at what was agreed and whether this built on the positive commitments from COP26.

The 27th United Nations Climate Conference (COP27) ended on the Sunday morning with researchers largely frustrated at the lack of ambition and commitment to phase out fossil fuels.  This was a key target at the outset but unfortunately there is a clear delineation at State level when it comes to both reliance on this energy source and economic benefits.   Notably, COP28 is to be held in the UAE, which should shine a spotlight on oil and gas production.

However, one positive was the agreement in relation to a ‘loss and damage’ fund for low and middle income countries (LMICs) to help them cover the costs of climate-change impacts.  This is a big step, and should not be understated having been a topic of conversation for many years.   The US Climate Envoy, John Kerry, was one delegate who opposed such a fund, pointing to existing mechanisms already in place to support developing countries.

Having been given an additional day to thrash out a deal, the delegates worked overnight to deliver a final 10-page summary text.   There are clear concerns raised in the document, which largely point to the gaps in the consensus reached.  It states that limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels requires “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030.   Calls to phase out fossil fuels were blocked by oil-producing states, and some delegates struggled to find reasons to be cheerful at the glacial pace of decarbonization. The War in Ukraine has led to many Countries, particularly within the EU, refocusing on fossil fuels such as natural gas and this shock to supply has largely been pointed to as a reason for the lack of progress on fossil fuels.

“It’s clear that the window for 1.5 is closing fast”, Chukwumerije Okerere,  a climate governance expert stated.  According to some, it might not be possible to keep this goal “unless there is massive carbon dioxide removal on an unprecedented scale”, he adds.

Although there were some areas of progress at COP27, it is evident that on the headline target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions the event, although promised a lot at the outset, fell short on decarbonisation.

Impact for Business

Even though COP27 did not build on prior commitment, the conference did still reinforce the need for businesses to have credible net zero plans in place.  The focus on loss and adaptation has put resilience to climate change front and centre. The need to make “rapid, deep and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” by 2030 will create more pressure on business to rapidly develop and deliver their plans to mitigate their GHG Emissions.   There is a general expectation that reporting requirements at a company level will further reinforce this.

Whilst many companies have made good progress in their journeys towards Net Zero (at varying tempos), many have yet to take the first steps into measuring and managing their GHG Emissions. To deliver meaningful change in the next 7 years companies will need to rapidly progress in the measurement, management, reduction of their carbon footprint.

One of the biggest challenges is Scope 3, which relates to a company’s supply chain and can be far reaching into dark corners across the World.  “For many businesses, Scope 3 emissions account for more than 70 percent of their carbon footprint. For example, for an organisation that manufactures products, there will often be significant carbon emissions from the extraction, manufacture and processing of the raw materials”.

 Immediate Challenges

Sourcing teams across all types of business and industry will have to rapidly acquire the skills needed to measure, manage and    reduce GHG Emissions. This will address the scale of emissions within current supply chains and identify the potential financial    costs of offsets.

  1. Measurement of Scope 3 Emissions

 Companies’ supply chains can be responsible for up to 70% of total emissions. The rapid measurement and identification of emission hot spots are vital to allow rapid positive interventions to deliver tangible progress.  Collating and measuring the data can be a pandora’s box of minutiae and assumptions, so making sure you have the right partners helping you in this arena will be key to creating that base line measurement.

  1. Collaboration

 Rapid progress will only be made by working collaboratively with key strategic suppliers.  It is essential in getting access to the relevant data, and can require a significant amount of work to be undertaken by your supplier.

  1. Skills and Data Visibility

 Progress on measurement and control can only be delivered with robust data sets shared with your supply chain partners. Creating data visibility will be a major challenge for all companies getting to grips with their emissions management.


The collection management and decision making to manage and reduce emissions will be of critical importance in the immediate future.  One that is essential to the challenge restricting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees. COP27 may have not got the commitments required at Government level but there is still a significant role to play by individual and busin

eases alike.

Emissions Measurement and Management

ET2C Is a global sourcing company with over twenty years’ experience working with our clients on their sourcing strategies.   We are currently rolling out our ET2Carbon tool that enables our clients to create visibility of GHG Emissions in their indirect supply chain (Scope 3).

This will enable emission hotspot identification and management across your supply chain partners.  We aim to build visibility, measure emissions, and set out the ability to reduce the GHG emissions year on year. If you would like to know more please contact us at

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Flat Pack Furniture: A Must Have for Urban Dwelling

Flat Pack Furniture is increasingly important to meet the rising growth in consumer demand

Flat pack furniture is benefitting from widespread the movement of people to more urban living and demand is rising as a result.  Today, some 56% of the world’s population – 4.4 billion inhabitants – live in cities. This trend is expected to continue, with the urban population more than doubling its current size by 2050, at which point nearly 7 of 10 people will live in cities.

As urban dwellers we have to deal with the challenges of living in smaller apartments, flats or urban spaces. Space is at a premium in the city and every square metre has to be utilised in the most effective way possible.

Styling and decorating your home is a key part of personalising your living space. Good furniture also helps you to keep your home tidy and uncluttered. A tidy home is great for your wellbeing.   As William Morris said,

“Have nothing in your house that that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful

The life and soul of the home, furniture is the very essence of each and every apartment and house alike, giving personality and individuality to each room – but it certainly doesn’t come cheap. From beds to desks, to chairs, filling a room with stylish furniture can certainly cost a pretty penny or two.

That’s why consumers cannot get enough flat pack furniture.

Flat pack furniture, sometimes known as ‘ready to assemble furniture’, ‘knock-down’ furniture or ‘self-assembly’ furniture is very popular with consumers due to its affordability.

3 reasons why Flat Pack Furniture is a growing market

  1. Cheaper than pre-assembled furniture

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of flat pack furniture is that it is substantially more affordable than traditional ‘ready to use’ furniture (yes, we know that building it can be tiresome!). As recessionary headwinds build across many markets the chance to style your home in a more affordable way is more and more appealing for consumers.

  1. Easy to dismantle

Being easy to take apart and dismantle may not sound like much, but when it comes to moving homes, this can most definitely come in handy and is one of the key benefits of flat pack furniture.

Simplicity in assembling new furniture is a vital part of consumers repeated choice of flap pack furniture as they style their homes. Simple assembly and disassembly also allow not just an ease of build but the option to move furniture around the home easily. Additionally, when you move home you can disassemble and make moving so much easier.

  1. Personalising and customising

Since flat pack furniture is classically simple and clean in its design, this allows for ample opportunity to completely personalise and design your furniture.

A splash of paint, stencilling designs or getting inspired and turning your furniture into a unique personal creation.  Flat pack furniture is perfect to let your creativity loose. Creating pieces of furniture that perfectly fit your lifestyle, needs and tastes.


The growth of urban living is continuing to drive the demand for flat pack furniture. Helping us all to create our living spaces into the unique homes we want to live in.

Sourcing flat pack furniture is subject to the inflationary pressures and global trade turmoil we have seen recently in many markets.

The opportunities for both Asia sourcing and near shoring through countries such as Turkey are available to buyers and sourcing teams who are looking for interesting and exciting product options for their customers. Jurisdictions such as Vietnam, Turkey and China all offer well designed and high quality furniture ranges.

ET2C is a leading global sourcing company with colleagues based across China, Vietnam, India and Turkey.  We provide our clients with the capability to deliver their strategic sourcing ambitions from across Asia.

For more information on how we could help you source flat pack furniture contact us at

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Plastic Injection Moulding: A Return to Growth

Plastic Injection Moulding as an industry has dipped through the course of the past 3 years during the Pandemic, but is projected to now return to growth.


Plastic injection moulding and componentry, as a global market, is expected to grow from $343b in 2020 to $476b by 2028 (Source: Fortune business insight – ). Demand is returning and projected to surpass pre-pandemic levels as a range of industries are utilising the advantages this manufacturing process can bring to components and products. These include:

  • Automotive
  • Packaging
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Building and Construction
  • Electronics

These diverse industries all take advantage from the range of benefits delivered by using plastic injection moulding.  Creating light, strong products that can have strong sealing capability and be produce many different complex designs.

The market is largely driven by the Asia Pacific region with their developing industrial base and consumer demand for products.  China, India and Japan are major markets and this demand has catalysed investment in technologies within their supplier bases.    To that extent, China has a large developed plastic injection moulding capability as one would expect.

Plastic Injection Moulding

So what does this technique involve?

If you have ever been to a factory using this technique, you will have noticed the sizeable machinery in the factory, which requires significant up front Capex.   The machine takes the solid plastic (pellets), compresses it and then melts it as prior to it arriving in the injection chamber. The plastic is then injected (as the name would suggest) at high pressure into a customized mould, which is generally made of two parts. The plastic then cools and solidifies and can then be released. Simple!

Moulds & Assembly

As you can imagine, it does get more complicated than this. There are variations in how the moulds interact (two part-moulds, side action moulds and moulds with ‘releasers’) which will depend entirely on the product being made.

In addition, the assembly process ranges from simple to complex. This is based on the budget and the final product being manufactured. Different types of assembly include mechanical, ultrasonic sealed and using adhesives.

Plastic injection moulding is a more automated manufacturing process which relies much less on the ‘human’ touch points. So, what are the benefits of using Asian suppliers given labour is not a significant cost? The largest benefit of leveraging production in Asia is the actual mould tool creation/set-up. This is very labour intensive hence the benefit and as such there are significant reductions in the capital investment required; costs which are often amortized across the product costs, which increases price.

Industry Application

The technique has broad application across a number of sectors. The best way to demonstrate this is to provide some insight on some of the industries where it is commonly used.

     1. Medical

The industry demands high quality instruments that are precise and intricate in their design. Plastic injection moulding, with its high-pressure moulding, is capable of producing such instruments in a cost-effective way. The plastic resins used are high quality and can deliver superior mechanical properties such as high tensile strength and resistance to high temperatures.

    2. Shoe Industry

  1. Electronics

Plastic is a good protector against dust and dirt and does not trap moisture. So when you are dealing with electronic components and circuit boards on keyboards and computers, plastic injection moulding is the perfect technique to create the casing and the frames. Given the infiltration of electronic items into our everyday lives, you should now be getting a sense of the importance of this manufacturing technique.

There are other industries that can also be added to the list, such as food and beverages, toy and building.

Advantages of Plastic Injection Moulding

We have seen the industries to which it is applied, but what are the benefits from a manufacturing perspective?

As a manufacturing process, plastic injection moulding has lots of advantages:

  1. Quality Replication

With the right moulds and resins, it should be possible to reproduce the same product thousands of times to the same quality.

  1. Low Cost

Once the moulds have been made and evaluated (and invested in) the cost per unit is relatively low compared with other materials and manufacturing processes. The lack of waste also factors into this as well (unlike CNC which has a much higher wastage).

  1. Mass Production

When the machine is operating, the injection cycle should be a matter of minutes (or even seconds!) per unit. It is therefore an incredibly quick and effective manufacturing process for mass, large scale production runs.

Future Trends

 There are some areas of development and innovation that are common to all industries, which are likewise applicable to the plastic injection moulding products.

  1. Sustainable recycled materials

 As the demand for recycled plastic to underpin sustainability targets for many companies and Governments continues to grow,  both recycled and environmentally friendly materials will become more available and the technology to process them efficiently and effectively will continue to develop.

  1. Light-weighting

 Largely driven by the automotive industry and their move to electric vehicles,  the need to ‘lightweight’ materials and components will drive development of both new materials and technology.

  1. Automation and AI

 The increasing use of technology to manage and refine machinery and material usage will see major new developments and improvements in performance in plastic injection moulding


As the market for plastic injection moulding has grown rapidly so has the offshoring of many companies product requirements.  China as a hub for high quality injection moulding continues to be the first choice for many companies when looking at Asia.  But, it is important to highlight that for European/UK based companies Turkey is certainly on the rise in this sector.

ET2C is a leading global sourcing company with colleagues based across China, Vietnam, India and Turkey.

We provide our clients with the capability of sourcing their needs from a range of specialist audited suppliers in multiple jurisdictions.

For more information contact us at

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How a Third Party Quality Control Service Can Benefit Your Business

How a 3rd Party Quality Control Service Can Benefit Your Business


How a Third Party Quality Control Service Can Benefit Your Business

A third-party quality control service operates as a keystone of your supply chain. Whether you source from down the road or as far as Asia, quality control requires constant attention. When your product must meet certain requirements to sell, verifying the capabilities of your suppliers is critical.
Thankfully, quality control metrics ensure that your decision to source from Asia remains cost-effective. Through early identification of issues and swift implementation of corrective action plans, quality control services deliver sustainable value to their clients.

Why Should You Consider a Third Party Quality Control Service?

When it comes to quality control and assurance, your business should embrace the best services for your product’s needs. Quality control checks give updates for whatever steps in production you choose to inspect. Sometimes that means inspecting materials before they ship from the factory, and other times before production begins, or any number of inspections between the two.
A range of representatives operate inspections in Asia, from in-house to third party.

How a 3rd Party Quality Control Service Can Benefit Your Business list
Third party quality control services ease bias concerns.

With an In-House Inspector at the Factory

In-house inspectors work from within the factory, developing quality control reports at requested moments in production. If you have established the trustworthiness of a factory, then this option is certainly viable. With a continuous improvement methodology and training at the factory level, it is possible to move to a self-certification inspection process that puts the responsibility for quality inspections firmly on the Supplier.

However, there is a potential conflict of interest. Loyalty may warrant that their interests align with the manufacturer over their clients and a costly mistake on the factory floor may be pawned off as certified for importers to discover in their own warehouses.

With a third Party Quality Control Service

Third-party quality control services function as the industry standard for quality control. They are objective and have experience across different product categories, which provides additional added value when it comes to potential product-specific quality issues.
Control parameters play an invaluable role in the performance of quality products. There is little doubt as to the value of a third party quality control service in Asia.

What Quality Controls Do I Need for My Business?

Early audits of factory and supplier capabilities ensure that your partners are capable of fulfilling orders. At this point in the process, you should be examining the methods and metrics of quality control. Manufacturers must demonstrate the infrastructure and technology necessary to identify and correct any errors in production.
Visibility is paramount. Understanding the production process and the materials being used to make your product are key to a successful production. It is important to recognize potential communication issues stemming from your instructions. Every part of your product specification creates a measurable benchmark for a third party quality control service to validate. Once you define a key metric, quality control checks evaluate whether production is meeting those expectations.

Some metrics are already set, like the Acceptable Quality Limits (AQL) outlined in the ISO 2859-1. While your own expectation can aim higher, meeting these baseline expectations can critically impact the salability of your product.
Critically identifying potential issues upstream, on-site, at the factory will remove significant future cost. Once the products have been shipped costs have already been incurred and it is likely that the cost of goods has already been transferred to the supplier. Getting anything back at that stage is problematic at best. Therefore, investing in third party quality control services has a significant benefit to your business and provides a level of comfort that your company’s money is being well spent.

How a 3rd Party Quality Control Service Can Benefit Your Business
Guide your product through the supply chain with peace of mind regarding quality.

Transparency and Accountability

Finding a trustworthy third party quality control service will provide a significant benefit to your business. We at ET2C International understand the necessity for transparency and accountability because they are core to what we do each day.
Contact us to learn more about the role of a third party quality control service plays in your supply chain and the range of services that we can provide.

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