Business / Industries

Upgrades that will cook the Japanese goose

By Fan Feifei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-04-06 10:14

Intelligent rice cookers made in China are expected to kick-start upgradation of the local manufacturing industry and end the dominance of, and Chinese consumers' fascination for, Japanese brands, experts said.

Xiaomi Corp launched a smartphone-controlled, 999-yuan ($155) induction heating or IH pressure cooker for rice under a new brand called Mijia in late March.

Last month, Guangdong-based Gree Electric Appliances Inc launched a new model of 1,199-yuan IH cooker.

IH rice cookers of well-known foreign brands retail for upwards of 2,000 yuan.

Chen Hengqing, an analyst at AVC, a consulting company that specializes in home appliances data, said: "I hope this round of rice cooker battle among Chinese manufacturers will weed out obsolete technology and backward companies in China, underline top quality, and deepen supply-side structural reforms that the government has been emphasizing."

Agreed Liang Zhenpeng, an independent consumer electronics analyst. Chinese manufacturers, he said, need to improve the quality and performance of their products and make them intelligent. That could help solve the problem of overcapacity and promote upgrading of the traditional manufacturing industry as soon as possible.

Chen said Chinese consumers now aspire for high-quality life. Finer things like tasty rice hold importance. "If I can buy a smart rice cooker made in China for 999 yuan whose quality is the same as that of foreign brands that cost several thousand yuan, why wouldn't I buy the local one?"

AVC data show IH rice cookers account for only 26 percent of total sales value of all types of rice cookers in China. The average price of cookers made in China is 853 yuan while that of leading foreign brands is 2,678 yuan.

"The new models show Chinese consumers want quality goods. Compared with low-end rice cookers priced between 100 yuan and 200 yuan, IH models are believed to cook rice to a nicety, preserving the grain's intrinsic taste and nutrition value," said Liang.

He sees a big market developing for IH rice cookers in first- and second-tier cities in China. This could mean prices of made-in-China high-end cookers could eventually drop to 500 yuan to 600 yuan.

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