Hong Kong Houseware Fair: Crossroad to the World

The Hong Kong Houseware Fair celebrated its 26th anniversary in April.

The Hong Kong Houseware Fair celebrated its 26th anniversary in April.

By Duke Ratliff

The Hong Kong Houseware Fair continued its reputation as one of the most far-reaching international trade shows with buyers, distributors and vendors from around the world.

The event celebrated its 26th anniversary in April, and it combined with a home textile fair to attract more than 2,300 exhibitors from 33 countries.

At the same time, North American exhibitors at the show said the Houseware Fair attracts distributors and buyers from seemingly all points of the globe.

Pomshaw Home, a tabletop company based in Houston, has exhibited at the Houseware Fair for the last five years. Nadia Calderon, the international sales manager for Pomshaw, said the company uses the show to expand its international distribution.

“We’ll see potential customers from Australia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador,” Calderon said.  “We get people from Poland–really from all over Europe.”

Calderon also mentioned seeing buyers/distributors from the Middle East, with a large group from Dubai; plus buyers from New Zealand and Norway.

Paul Larsen, manager of Viz Glass, located in San Francisco, said the company was exhibiting at the show to “target countries that don’t have a depth of art glass. We’re looking to expand in places like Russia and South America.”

FilterStream, a Marblehead, Mass.-based vendor of personal care products, has exhibited at the Houseware Fair for almost a decade.  Co-founder Troy Anderson said the company exhibits at the show for multiple reasons. “When you’re out to build a global brand, you have to build a global market,” Anderson said. “Most of the buyers here don’t visit the U.S. Housewares Show.”

The Hong Kong location makes the show particularly attractive for FilterStream. “Hong Kong is one of the crossroads of the world,” Anderson said. “It’s natural to have a major trade show–it’s very productive for a lot of buyers.” Plus, Anderson said, he uses it as a starting point to visit partnering factories in mainland China.

Anderson added that international buyers are not as price sensitive as their U.S. counterparts.

“We’re finding that our overseas customers are often less price-oriented than the U.S.,” Anderson said. “Overseas retailers are more willing to pay for more quality and better features.”

Javier Balmaseda, international salesperson for Trudeau, which is based in Quebec, Canada, speaks seven languages and likely used them all at the Hong Kong Houseware Fair. “This show’s a great opportunity to meet our customers from all over the world. It saves us a lot of trips.”

Balmaseda said the show is notable as an entryway into up and coming markets. “We’ll meet customers from lots of countries that are growing in importance–lots of South American buyers, including tons from Brazil. But we’ll also see buyers from Vietnam and India.”

The housewares show welcomed a new group pavilion from Japan which joined those from Australia, Bangladesh, Brazi, the Chinese mainland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

In previous years, the International Housewares Association sponsored a pavilion of U.S. manufacturers. This year, the International Housewares Association had a booth at the Houseware Fair, but did not sponsor a pavilion due to lack of interest from vendors, according to Derek Miller, IHA’s vice president, international.

The textile fair, which debuted last year, returned with exhibitors from 11 countries and regions including Belgium, India, South Korea and Spain. Highlights included a Trend Display Area, organized under the themes Modern and Elegant. The section, designed to forecast industry trends, resembled model homes.

This year’s fair featured a new Green Living Zone, with items such as biodegradable garbage bags, bamboo bowls and eco-friendly beanbag chairs. The Sustainable Design Inspirations at the Green Living Zone displayed a variety of sustainable housewares items created by product designers, as well as students from Hong Kong Baptist University. Designers created home products from used carpets, hangers and banners from previous exhibitions.

The event also included the World of Pet Supplies, which returned with over 100 exhibitors and a new section devoted to pet food and supplements.