Barbecue grills are increasingly a “Made in China” business.
China-made grills – especially the less-expensive, charcoal-fueled models – account for half of the grills sold in the U.S., according to industry reports by IBISWorld. And, that number is expected to rise.
Eighty percent of U.S. households own a grill, fryer or smoker, according to IBIS World.
When you shop Lowe’s, Walmart or Home Depot – where 54 percent of these products are sold, according to IBIS World – almost all the grills, fryers and smokers are made in China.
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How to tell? Where grills are made is marked on the box, according to Federal law.
Most of the markings read “Made in China,” like boxes from market #2 Char-Broil.
Some are effusive: Pit Boss products read “Proudly made in China.”
Others obfuscate: Char Griller of Sea Island prints on four sides of its boxes, “Designed and Supported in the U.S.A.” surrounding a red, white and blue image of the U.S. flag. But they are made in China. Some Weber grills, like the popular Spirit, are marked “Made in China.” Others, like the Genesis, are marked, “Made in the U.S.A. Incorporating globally sourced component parts.”
There are barbecue grills that are made in the U.S.A. Golden’s Cast Iron Cooker is the most-recent entry in the “Proudly made in the U.S.A.” sector. It’s kamodo-style (egg-shaped) cooker and base are $1,699.00.
Demand is increasing for these higher-priced grills, according to IBISWorld, and that will favor U.S. manufacturers. Buyers are willing to pay for higher-priced grills, according to Grill Outlet owner Troy Amos, not because they are made in the U.S., but because their warranties are better.
“People are buying the warranty,” Amos says.
Fans of the Big Green Egg, the leading manufacturer of kamodo-style cookers, ridicule competitors whose cookers are made in China. Turns out the Big Green Egg is assembled in the U.S. from ceramic parts made in Mexico. The Dal Tile plant in Monterey makes the ceramic parts, according to trading data from Panjiva.
One Big Egg fan named Fidel hoped to settle the “where it’s made” argument this way: “Who cares where the parts are made or where the final assembly takes place? In the grand scheme of things does it really matter? ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ stopped being a meaningful phrase many moons ago.”
John F. Greenman is professor of journalism emeritus at the University of Georgia and the former president and publisher of the Ledger-Enquirer. He publishes the travel guide www.36hoursincolumbus.com.