Saturday, April 18, 2009

Last Thing

Three posts in one night! I am trying to make up with you.

I don't have the details on this because the ruling seems to be unpublished as of today. But, I know I read a summary in the Customs Record. Look for H019364. The issue is whether the toys put inside boxes of cereal have to have their country of origin marked on them. For some reason, I was surprised to discover that they do. A similar older ruling is HQ 733839 (Jan. 31, 1991).

Marking is a funny thing. The purpose of it is to alert consumers to the origin of the product so that consumers can decide whether or not to buy it. It is kind of like government supported private discrimination. I guess since it is perceived to favor Americans, that is an OK policy.

What if consumers really don't care? It seems to me that my anecdotal experience indicates that consumers don't. I realize that is an old debate that I will not settle here.

The thing that struck me about the toy in the cereal box is that the consumer not only doesn't care, but likely would not change his or her purchase on the basis of the origin of the toy. If Jr. wants Lucky Charms, he will get Lucky Charms whether the magic shamrock decoder ring is from China or . . . who are we kidding, its from China. If Mom and Dad want to find a $0.05 magic shamrock decoder ring made in the U.S., have at it.

There, though, is a new wrinkle to this: product safety. I wonder whether parents who are more careful than me would have a greater level of safety fear over a Chinese versus American $0.05 piece of plastic. I'm letting the kid eat tiny, hard, fluorescent marshmallows for breakfast. Clearly, I am not the proper role model.

1 comment:

Larry said...

Just to clarify, I think the ruling actually said that the marking needs to be on the box of cereal.