Fine Earthenware

SIC 3263

Industry report:

This industry consists of companies manufacturing semivitreous earthenware table and kitchen articles. These include fine semivitreous whiteware, semivitreous earthenware used for cooking and serving food, and both commercial and household earthenware. Manufacturers of vitreous china table and kitchen articles are included in SIC 3262: Vitreous China Table and Kitchen Articles.

Fine earthenware table and kitchen articles have been made for centuries. Earthenware is porous, coarse, and opaque, unlike vitrified porcelain and bone china, which are nonporous and translucent. All are considered pottery and begin with clay and other raw materials, but earthenware is fired at lower temperatures and is more breakable.

Many styles and types of earthenware have become popular as every day dinnerware. Since earthenware is less expensive than bone china or other vitreous tableware, sales are less affected by changes in the economy. China and porcelain products began to draw more consumers in the first decade of the 2000s, however, especially from high-income households headed by 45- to 54-year-olds. The bridal market also accounted for a large percentage of retail sales of semivitreous earthenware.

The oldest form of pottery, earthenware, was made as early as the ninth century in China, where it was dried in the sun. Kilns became the source of heat to fire pottery that becomes modern dinnerware, but in the industry as a whole, much of the technology is the same as it was centuries ago. Not much has changed, including the labor-intensive nature of the work and the skilled craftsmen who are employed to manufacture products with high standards of quality, but pottery wheels are electric, and a jiggerblade can quickly shape a plate.

In the early 1990s, manufacturers were beginning to respond to consumer concerns about lead content in chinaware. Some manufacturers changed the recipes of their glazes to reduce the lead content. Ceramic goods imported from other countries were more likely to contain lead, since many countries did not have strict lead content rules. California's Proposition 65, the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, required labeling on chinaware, warning consumers if a product would expose them to more than 0.5 micrograms of lead per day.

Although most of the same companies that manufactured earthenware also manufactured vitreous china, far fewer people worked directly on these products. In 2004 approximately 11,086 people were employed in both industries (down from 18,696 in 2000), of which only a few hundred worked in the earthenware industry.

The value of industry shipments for all vitreous china, fine earthenware, and other pottery classes was $902.3 million in 2004, down from $1.15 billion in 2001. The value of industry shipments in the fine earthenware segment in 2001 was $42.7 million, less than half the value of shipments in 1997, which totaled $88.9 million. This segment of the industry accounted for only 4 percent of total shipments of vitreous china, fine earthenware, and other pottery products in 2001. The decline in this sector was due in part to the economic downturn in the United States and to a growing number of inexpensive imports. Imports accounted for more than 50 percent of sales in earthenware and kitchenware. Most foreign competition came from Japan, Taiwan, China, and England.

A December 1, 2007, article in Ceramic Industry said that "The dinnerware segment of the whiteware industry has struggled for years primarily as a result of the consumer trend toward more casual lifestyles, among other challenges." The article went on to say, however, that "manufacturers are beginning to see improved results." By 2008 the industry was valued at $98.1 million and employed 2,273 people. Pennsylvania was the largest producing state with $63.9 million in shipments.

Despite the economic recession that began at the end of 2007, "Manufacturers reported that they were holding steady with decent sales and finding new contacts," according to the April 27, 2009, issue of Gifts & Decorative Accessories. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the total value of shipments of both vitreous china and earthenware articles totaled $688.8 million in 2008.

Industry jobs included machine operators in the sliphouse; mold runners, casters, and jiggermen, who work to shape and form the clay; cutters and finishers who dry and again shape the product; glaze grinders and decorators; kiln firemen and loaders; inspectors, selectors, and stampers; and packers.

According to Dun & Bradstreet, 74 U.S. establishments operated in the production of semivitreous table and kitchenware in 2010. Together these firms generated $94.6 million in sales and employed 1,992 people. Although just over half of the firms in this industry employed fewer than 25 people, the average number of employees in all of the companies in the industry was 27. Twenty-seven of the 50 states were home to at least one earthenware manufacturer, and New York had the most establishments in the industry, followed by California, Washington, and Texas.

The industry leaders in the early 2010s were Zrike Company of Oakland, New Jersey, with annual sales of around $14 million, and Rancho Cucamonga, California-based Bradshaw International Inc., which had sales of $37.9 million in 2010. Bradshaw also had an office and a showroom in Hong Kong.

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News and information about Fine Earthenware

High & Low: Spode Baking Dish
St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO); December 7, 2014; 271 words
...carrying handles. This serving piece is crafted from fine earthenware and holds eight cups of your favorite recipe...carrying handles. This serving piece is crafted from fine earthenware and holds eight cups of your favorite recipe...
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...32711 Pottery, ceramics, and plumbing fixture 327110 manufacturing Primary products 327110-P Vitreous china, fine earthenware, and 327110-2 other pottery products Vitreous china, porcelain, and 327110-21 earthenware All other pottery...
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Ceramic Industry; October 1, 2004; 700+ words
...overall U.S. imports of china, fine earthenware and other pottery products drop...of (NAICS 327112) China, Fine Earthenware and Other Pottery Products with...of (NAICS 327112) China, Fine Earthenware and Other Pottery Products with...
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US Fed News Service, Including US State News; April 9, 2013; 700+ words
...dinner sets comprised of dishes, plates, mugs, cups and saucers; figurines of porcelain; statues of porcelain, fine earthenware and glass; gift articles of porcelain, glass and glazed stoneware, namely, figurines, eggs, mugs, and boxes...
Monthly sector analysis: this sector analysis includes acquisitions and buyouts announced between 25 March and 23 April, UK public offers completed between these dates are included, whereas new and pending offers are excluded. The transactions are classified according to the US Sic Code identifying the industry sector in which the target company is principally engaged. (Monthly sector analysis).(Statistical Data Included)
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...Stanhome (US) - 57.48 01-Sep-94 Manufacture Wholesale giftware, miniature ceramic collectibles houses 3263: Fine earthenware (whiteware) kitchen articles Crown House (95.3%) Coloroll Group (UK) - 141.31 09-Apr-87 (UK) - Manufacture...
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Building Design; September 30, 2005; 700+ words
...are known by a number of common terms. Wall tiles are traditionally dust pressed, glazed ceramic, with a body of fine earthenware and a relatively high rate of water absorption. They are suitable for residential or commercial buildings, and...
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Insurance Advocate; August 18, 2008; 492 words
...Company, is a manufacturer and wholesale distributor of high quality gifts and home accessories to retail stores across the Western New York Region. Their specialized products include pottery, Vitreous China, and Fine Earthenware.

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