Made in the USA! Reshoring Children’s Products

by Foley & Lardner LLP

For all expecting and new parents, you probably have learned how quickly buying your child’s products adds up! So why would you be willing to pay more for an American-made product when you could purchase a similar product or even the “same” product, produced overseas, for half the cost?

To answer this question, you should ask yourself whether you really want to trust your baby with foreign imports. Although many items produced overseas are superb, sometimes they are not, and your new baby’s products are not something to take a chance on. Each year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“Customs”) seizes literally millions of products being imported into the U.S. because they are defective and/or because the products were manufactured with lead, cadmium, or some other hazardous substance. While Customs has done a commendable job of seizing products at the border, it is able to prevent only a fraction of the number of the potentially dangerous products from making their way into the hands of U.S. consumers.

Although there is no way to 100% guarantee that U.S.-made products will be safe for your child, the facts speak for themselves. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website, all of the cribs, infant carriers, and strollers (three of the most popular items for parents to purchase) recalled in 2013 and 2014 were manufactured overseas in Asia and Europe.

There are several laws in the U.S. that have been enacted to help ensure the safety of children’s products. They include the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008, the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, the Flammable Fabrics Act, and the Poison Protection Packaging Act. Furthermore, there are other U.S. laws to protect the rights of labor and the planet your baby will soon be living in!

Many foreign countries where products are being made have few or no regulations that protect the environment or laborers. This is, of course, not true of all foreign countries, but when buying an American product, you know that there are regulations in place to protect the consumer, the environment, and the labor force.

In recent years, several manufacturers, including makers of children’s products, have successfully shifted their overseas production to the United States. For example, Recarco Child Safety LLC has tripled its sales since reshoring its parts production. John Riedl, the president of Recarco, strongly believes that supplier proximity will pay off in the long run for Recarco. Furthermore, Reidl says that although labor in the U.S. is more expensive than in Asia, there are plenty of advantages in dealing domestically. Among these advantages are the company’s savings on travel time and expenses, the ability of the company to get products to market sooner, and the ability for parties involved in the production of the goods to communicate more in person or by phone as opposed to communicating by email.

When buying American-made children’s products, you are doing a few things:

  1. You contribute to the American economy and assist in the reversal of the trend to move manufacturing overseas;
  2. You increase the odds that your products are environmentally friendly and safe for your child; and
  3. You protect human rights.

For these reasons and more, sellers of children’s products, as well as other categories, such as clothing, are positioning to promote “Made in the U.S.A.”

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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