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What Does “Made In The USA” Really Mean To You?

Ever since Starbucks announced it was returning the manufacturing of its retail coffee mugs to the U.S.A., Rosemary and I have been checking for them.  Every time we are in a Starbucks we turn the mugs over to see where they were made.  I finally found one Made in the U.S.A. this month! In the case of a ceramic mug it’s pretty safe to say that 100% of it was made in the USA.

In the case of a cell phone, laptop or automobile it’s not so easy. They are all made from thousands of parts and although it may be “Assembled” in the U.S.A many of the internal parts could have been manufactured elsewhere. The percentage of those parts made elsewhere vs made in the USA determines if the product can legally wear the Made In USA label. To make it even more complicated, different products have different percentages. According to an article on, apparel products only need 70% of the content to be made in the U.S. whereas automobiles need 95%. In California, products must have 90% of the content sourced locally.

For example, according to the same article, “foreign” car manufacturer Toyota claims to have created 365,000 jobs in the U.S. as of 2012. “Made in America” automotive can be particularly fuzzy when you consider the number of foreign assembly plants and OEM suppliers who participate in the development and production of vehicles sold on American soil.

The label “Made In USA” or “Made in America” implies that American workers made that product. But is this really true?  What does this mean to you as a consumer? Do you feel misled? In today’s global marketplace having parts made all over the world is more the rule than the exception.

Regardless of the percentage, companies that are bringing back some of their manufacturing are making an impact.  Look at Starbucks, their mugs are 100% made in the USA and the result was that 11 jobs were created.  How many people besides Rosemary and I even look to see where it was made? Reshoring and bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. will result in more jobs which will lead to customer loyalty and support. We are here to help determine what to bring back!

Originally published on Blue Silk Consulting website on May 21, 2014

Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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