China makes more than 70 per cent of the world's kitchen appliances, handily out-competing manufacturers in Japan, Europe and the United States by offering mid-range quality at very low prices. Over the past decade, most foreign manufacturers have outsourced production to China, focused on ultra-high-end products or gone out of business. A handful of cities in the Pearl River Delta - Shunde, Foshan, Zhongshan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Dongguan - produced US$2.45 billion worth of kitchen appliances, or more than 60 per cent of the mainland's output, according to a study by Global Sources, a Nasdaq-listed trade facilitator. Shunde has become an appliance hub, where factories churn out millions of microwave ovens, rice cookers, kettles and other kitchen helpers every year. 'Shunde is No1 by far for kitchen appliances. You have the world's largest makers sitting there,' said Michael Kleist, a senior Global Sources analyst. 'The factories are huge. The high volume enables them to drive down costs with economies of scale.' The average price of an exported Chinese microwave oven fell to US$36.80 last year, from $39.50 in 2002. Prices for rice cookers fell to $9.80 from $11. Shunde is home to Galanz, the world's biggest maker of microwave ovens, GD Midea Holding, the global No1 manufacturer of rice cookers, and Guangdong Donlim Kitchen Group, the world's biggest producer of plastic and stainless steel kettles. All told, the mainland exported US$3.7 billion worth of kitchen appliances last year, up 32 per cent from $2.8 billion in 2002. Global Sources forecasts 30 per cent growth this year. Most of the appliances are produced for international brands such as AEG, Black & Decker, Jusco and Copco, Mr Kleist said. 'China is set up for kitchen appliances like nowhere else in the world,' he said. 'People that were buying from other countries are now buying from China. Even third world countries are buying from China.' Western Europe accounts for much of China's kitchen appliance exports at 29 per cent. It is easier for Chinese firms to get certification there than in the US, according to Global Sources. Kitchen appliances also are exported to Africa, Middle East and Latin America. Production in the sector is due to increase substantially in the next 12 months. Of the 93 Chinese manufacturers surveyed by Global Sources, 92 per cent plan to increase output over the coming year. Of those, 25 per cent will raise production by more than 50 per cent. Galanz will increase microwave oven production by 25 per cent to 20 million pieces this year. The Chinese firm produced 16 million microwave ovens last year, accounting for 40 per cent of global supply. Donlim, which plans to list in Hong Kong next year, is building its 12th and biggest factory on a 200,000 square metre site in Shunde, which will start production in October, said marketing manager Rena Liao Hongjuan. The company's 11th factory started production last December. Donlim has started new factories every year since 2000 and the latest will boost revenues by 40 per cent to US$280 million this year from US$200 million last year, said investment chief Hu Wenbin. Donlim produced 10 million of the world's 45 million plastic and stainless steel kettles last year. Galanz has a production capacity of 27 million kitchen appliances per year. Shenzhen-listed Midea can make 19 million kitchen appliances annually. Guangdong Wideshine Stainless Steel Products, a Foshan-based firm that makes only stainless steel kettles, will start production in Guangdong next year, said sales manager Taylor Lee Taiyao. Co-founder and general manager Xie Mingsheng said capacity would double and revenue grow 50 per cent to US$10 million this year. Midea started making portable electric fans in Shunde in the 1980s. The firm is the world's biggest electric fan producer and China's third-largest air-conditioner maker. With revenue of 13.8 billion yuan last year, it aims to grow its kitchen appliance business by 36.8 per cent to US$424 million next year.