NEW to TILE MAGAZINE
In recent years, China's ceramic tile companies are paying more attention to intellectual property protection and innovative designs, and as a direct result a large number of innovative products appeared. Many internationally renowned designers are commissioned by leading Chinese manufacturers. This growing trend is helping create more appealing and competitive products.



The modern Chinese ceramic tile industrial production started in Shanghai Taishan Ceramic and Wenzhou Xishan Ceramic in 1931. By now China is the largest ceramic/porcelain tile manufacturing country in the world. In the past decade China’s ceramic tile output of has been growing at an annual rate of 20%. According to Chinese official statistics, the total output reached 5 billion square meters by December 2007. Export accounts for 600 million square meters, and domestic consumption is 4 billion square meters, and inventory turnover accounts for nearly 400 million square meters. China’s per capita ceramic tile consumption is about 2.7 square meters.

In recent years, China’s ceramic tile companies are paying more attention to intellectual property protection and innovative designs, and as a direct result a large number of innovative products appeared. Many internationally renowned designers are commissioned by leading Chinese manufacturers. This growing trend is helping create more appealing and competitive products.

There are many excellent ceramic tile manufacturers in China strategically located in six major ceramic production regions. Because of their quality products and innovative designs, these household names in China are making their way into the competitive international markets. Many have established brand recognition and distribution networks in Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and the U.S.

The six major ceramic tile production centers, all of which have complete raw materials and supplier networks and a knowledgeable workforce, are located in:

Foshan in Guangdong Province (Guangdong Dongpeng Ceramic, Foshan Oceano Ceramics, Guangdong New Pearl Ceramics, Foshan KITO Ceramic, Guangdong Wonderful Ceramics, Guangdong Eagle Ceramics, Guangdong R.A.K. Ceramics, New Zhongyuan Ceramics, Foshan Gani Ceramics, Guangdong White Rabbit Ceramics); Zibo and Linyi in Shandong Province; Jiajiang in Sichuan Province; Shanghai (Shanghai Cimic Tile, Shanghai ASA Ceramic, Hangzhou Nobel Group); Jinjiang in Fujian Province (SANWON Ceramics and Tengda Ceramics); Jianping and Faku in Liaoning Province.

As the Chinese government tightens environmental controls for tiles production, companies that do not comply with the new laws and regulations will have to upgrade in the next three years or be eliminated. More than 30% of the tile factories are expected to disappear, and the total ceramic tile output growth would be slower, and the growth can even be negative.

Chinese ceramic tile productions are subject to strict national quality standards, and all porcelain tiles must meet the Chinese Compulsory Certification (3C). The 3C requires that all ceramic tile must meet or exceed the following specifications: porcelain tile ≤0.5% (water absorption); interior wall tile <10% (water absorption); and exterior wall tile <10% (water absorption). Because of fierce domestic competition and equipment upgrades, many Chinese companies’ internal quality standards are stricter than the mandatory national standards. Every year, the Chinese quality assurance and inspection authorities conduct random sample checks for ceramic tile quality, and the results are published. Industry associations also provide quality standard training to the factories and perform industry quality supervision.

Chinese ceramic/porcelain tile manufacturers produce a wide range of formats, and is a leading developer of large format ceramic and porcelain tile products (floor tiles - 100x100 to 1200x1200; interior wall tiles - 108x108 to 900x600; and mosaic exterior wall tiles - 25x25 to 240x60).

Because of the quality China’s manufacturers have achieved over the years, the country is enjoying a newly gained international reputation and popularity for its value. Currently, more than 16 major multinational ceramic tile manufacturers are sourcing from China, with 60% of the products exported and 40% sold in China’s domestic market.

The high concentration of manufacturers creates a great opportunity for international buyers as competition is at a level seldom seen anywhere else. China Ceramics City in Foshan is a good example of tile manufacturers competing side-by-side. The new China Ceramics Industry Headquarters will only intensify the competition. Despite the competition, the industry is working together to promote the industry as a whole. China Ceramics City has been working with Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA) and major Chinese ceramic tile manufacturers to educate Chinese manufacturers how to tap into the U.S. market, and at the same time provide unprecedented access for U.S. ceramic tile distributors to Chinese factories.

The 2008 CTDA trade mission in June will mark the beginning of a new era of U.S. China ceramic tile industry cooperation. For more information on the trade mission, please contact Andy Peng: phone (408) 898-4104; fax (408) 540-0784; or e-mail: apeng@ChinaTiles.org, or visit www.chinatiles.org/2008china. The deadline to register is May 18, 2008.

Editor’s Note: This article is provided by China Tile & Sanitary Ware Magazine and translated by Andy Peng. For more information, contact Andy Peng via e-mail at: apeng@chinatiles.org.