November 16, 2022 by Peter Rogoz
While day to day life has returned to relative normalcy in the USA, COVID-19 has continued to be a factor for fireworks manufacturers in China as spiking cases have halted production and squeezed supply chains under the Zero COVID policy.
Above: Photos taken at Chinese fireworks factories during our visits in 2019 and 2015. The last time Spirit of '76 employees were able to visit our suppliers in China was the summer of 2019, as of this article's publish date.
Nearly three years into the pandemic, Chinese authorities have remained quite diligent in instituting and enforcing COVID preventative efforts throughout the country. Since 2020, China has operated under the Zero COVID policy, a set of containment measures developed by Chinese leadership that remain some of the strictest in the world.
Throughout the COVID pandemic, various cities, provinces, and manufacturing hubs across China have gone into lockdown and halted production in an effort to contain COVID when elevated numbers of cases are detected in those areas. On average, lockdowns last 5-10 days with residents told to remain in their homes at all times. This has added significant delays to multitudes of industries as factories are left without workers or are forced to wait for shipments of materials from locked down regions to resume.
Just last week, the fireworks producing regions of Liuyang and Liling in Hunan were forced into lockdown, halting a major portion of Chinese fireworks production for several days. Neighboring Jiangxi did not lockdown, but fireworks manufacturing has stalled as shipments of critical components and chemicals sourced in Liuyang and Lilling are delayed. The ongoing interruptions have wreaked havoc on supply chains throughout China causing drastic fluctuations in the cost of materials as delicate supply and demand balances shift.
On November 11, Chinese leadership announced a pulling back of some measures within the Zero COVID policy by publishing a list of 20 policy adjustments. Even post adjustment, the measures remain the most strict in the world. The mandatory quarantine period for any person traveling into China, for example, was not eliminated but cut down to seven days instead of the previous ten days. Regular COVID testing requirements remain to enter many public places. While the new policy adjustments hint at avoiding lockdowns, they don’t provide clear insight on the criteria or process of implementing future lockdowns. With COVID cases surging in major cities throughout China, sporadic shutdowns and manufacturing are likely to continue through the winter months.
For now, these pauses in production have lengthened already stretched delivery times in China and made certain products difficult or impossible to obtain. No industry has been left unscathed, with Apple recently announcing a delay in iPhone 14 production due to a recent COVID lockdown in Zhengzhou, home of the largest iPhone manufacturing facility in the world. With COVID cases surging in major cities throughout China, sporadic shutdowns and manufacturing are likely to continue through the winter months.
At Spirit of ‘76, we have been working hard to place orders with our suppliers earlier than ever and we are remaining flexible to provide the best selection of high quality products. Our warehouse and logistics teams have adapted to ever changing delivery schedules to make sure that customers can get what they need when they need it. Whenever possible, we have sought new suppliers, like Giuliani Fireworks, makers of our ‘76 Pro Italia line, to continue making products available to our customers without interruption.
We are currently stocked with a full line up of consumer fireworks and many of our ‘76 Pro Line products, including cakes, comets, flames, gerbs and strobes are in stock and ready to ship. We expect even more ‘76 Pro Line products to be in stock early 2023, but we anticipate that supplies will be limited. As always, if there are any products you need, we advise buying them as soon as possible when they become available.
- Peter Rogoz, VP of '76 Pro Line