Sourcing Report: Writing Instruments

17 Oct 2011 • by Natalie Aster

China’s writing instruments industry is maintaining a positive outlook for 2012 even as export sales merely inch along this year.

Customs statistics show that in the six months to July 2011, the country’s outbound shipments of scribbling tools exceeded $767 million, rising less than 1 percent YoY. North America, the EU and the Asia-Pacific region accounted for more than one-third of revenue collectively.

Apart from sluggish growth, swelling material and labor costs are major challenges. To counter them, suppliers are implementing various efficiency projects that can generate savings.

As regards boosting the top line, makers are launching R&D initiatives that will improve product appeal. Most endeavors concern ecological safety and aesthetic upgrades. The first trend is also supported through modified manufacturing processes.

The report “Sourcing Report: Writing Instruments” by Global Sources covers the major products of China’s writing instruments industry, namely ballpoint, gel, fountain, rollerball and multifunction pens, pencils, markers and highlighters. Each category has its own section discussing design trends specific to the line. It also details the features and prices of low-end, midrange and high-end models. The material sources are included as well.

Key findings:


  1. Although fewer suppliers will augment capital expenditure in the coming year, budgets are not being cut because of the need to improve capability. To this end, companies are increasing automation in their factories. Fully computerized plastic-injection machines, assembly lines, and printing and packaging equipment allow them to reduce the number of workers at each step. These also expand output, minimize waste and improve quality.
  2. North America and the EU will remain the key markets for the majority of suppliers. The areas are driving the industry toward adopting the environmental protection trend. Under efforts to go “green”, makers are utilizing fast-maturing wood and recycled plastic and paper for barrels. Companies are lowering energy consumption, and supporting projects for reforestation and reduction of carbon emission.
  3. Businesses are enhancing product attractiveness based on the tastes of different market segments. They consult with design firms to come up with trendy styles.
  4. Some manufacturers are improving functionality. Initiatives for pens include lengthening fixing time for erasable ink and enhancing writing fluency. In markers, heightened ink utilization, and offering models that are refillable or have replaceable cores are emphasized.
  5. Product prices will increase due to mounting fabrication costs. About one-third of interviewed suppliers intend to limit adjustments to 5 percent, but one-fifth will raise quotes more than 15 percent.


Report Details:

Sourcing Report: Writing Instruments
Published: September 2011
Pages: 54
Price: US$ 350.00

Report Sample Abstract

Supplier profiles: Asia Sky International (Hong Kong) Ltd

Ballpoint and gel pens take up Asia Sky’s entire production of writing instruments. About 168,000 pieces are manufactured and exported in a month, generating $1 million annually.

This represents 17 percent of the company’s total sales. All shipments go to North America, where the maker will continue to strengthen its foothold. Every year, $500,000 is invested in R&D.

Despite upcoming price increases exceeding 15 percent due to surging raw material outlay, the supplier expects overseas revenue to decline in 2012. Nonetheless, Asia Sky will expand capital spending by more than 50 percent to boost competitiveness. Established in 2005, the Guangdong province-based company has 100 fulltime employees.

More information can be found in the report “Sourcing Report: Writing Instruments ” by Global Sources.

To order the report or ask for sample pages contact


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