Wickerwork Industry in China
According to INBAR (International Network for Bamboo and Rattan), in 2011, the total export value of wickerwork products from China was over $1,065.36 million, including furniture, basketry, plaits, flooring, mats, screens, pulps, paper articles and similar products made from bamboo, rattan and willow.
Export value these products to the USA was $279.66 million, accounting for 26.25% of total export value.
Export value of bamboo and rattan products to Europe was $396.74 million, accounting for 37.24% of total export value.
Place of Production
Wickerwork productions have wildly spread across China, which can be dated back to the Tang Dynasty. Materials used for wickerwork are varied depending on natural resources in different regions.
Shandong province is famous for wickerwork products made from willow, which accounts for nearly 80% of willow products exports in China.
Guangxi province is the major production area for bamboo and rattan wickerwork products, whereas Hainan and Yunnan province are also producing bamboo and rattan wickerwork products locally.
Grassware manufacturing is popular in several provinces such as Shandong, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Henan, as a result of rich grass and agricultural resources in these regions.
Trends and Opportunities
Several interesting trends are spotted by CBI in recent development of wickerwork products.
A natural material such as wickerwork corresponds to the desire of urban consumers to pull nature in. As such it may well replace plastics and synthetic materials in basketry and storage generally, as well as in smaller and larger furniture.
Wicker is a humble material, and, especially in unpainted, naked form, this is part of the trend to buy more 'essential' - to use an unadorned object in untreated fibers, almost straight from nature - how humble can one get as a designer.
Wickerwork products, from their tropical origins, bring authenticity - products with origin, and that sense part of a particular culture. Authenticity has been a trend for quite some time, and wickerwork products are logical way to express it.
Wickerwork products come in many different styles, and we see it being applied as a major component of the successful middle-end 'cottage' and 'colonial' styles. Here, too, the factor is 'authenticity', translated: as 'heavily used' or 'vintage' in the former style, and 'rustic and nostalgic, from the days of old', in the latter.
Wickerwork products allow for the expression of another major trend: that of hand-made. Beautifully woven cane or rattan items are in demand and appreciated by a consumer looking to rediscover those amazing manual skills that Europe has perhaps already lost.
Wickerwork products are of course extremely tactile and in combination with other materials (metal, glass, ceramics, PVC etc.) can form interesting sensations to the touch or eye.
Needless to say, with the macro trend of sustainability influencing as all at a human level, wickerwork products in Home Decor needs to be sustainable too. The home, more than ever, is the place where the consumer can express himself through his own, carefully selected objects. These objects are a form of status. Wickerwork products with fibers with origin allow the consumer to tell interesting stories, giving the storyteller status.
The objects in the home also give the consumer a good feeling - they touch his senses and provide mental pleasure. The consumer, due to his more limited spending power, is also expecting much more from his buy - excellent aesthetic, innovativeness, lasting and sustainable design.
Replacement is an issue in wickerwork products. Storage or packaging solutions these days come in many materials, from plastics (environmentally-friendly or not) to wood, paper, metals and fabric, depending on the exact application. There are lots of alternatives, and wickerwork products are only one of them. Replacement is a bigger issue in the lower end of the market than in the higher segments.
Picnic hampers, in a variety of forms, material, colors and styles have their own niche. To live a healthier life, consumers spend more of their leisure time outdoors, in nature, and dining in the park or garden is the easiest way to do it. Picnic hampers also feature dominantly in the nostalgic 'country' or colonial styles mentioned before. They are available in middle and higher-end segments.