Mr. David, Chow Tak Fung
Hong Kong Optical Manufacturers Association
Hong Kong's optical manufacturers are excellent in handling small bulk order and mastering the ever-changing market trends to produce high-end optical frames with a wide range of styles and designs. According to the latest statistics, Hong Kong is the third largest exporter of glasses and eyewear in 2015, second only to the Mainland China and Italy. In the first ten months of 2017, the total export of eyewear, glasses and spectacle frames in Hong Kong has risen 2% by year to USD $2.17 billion. During the same period, the two major export markets, the European Union and the United States, accounted for 58% of the total export of optical products in Hong Kong, dropping 1% and 3% by year, respectively. The Mainland China, which is the third export market of Hong Kong, also dropped 1.6% by year, whereas Australia, the fourth largest exporter, recorded an increase of 61% in exports. Glasses and goggles, as well as eyeglass frames and frames, were the top major export products, accounting for more than 83% of total exports in the first 10 months of 2017. On the other hand, the other two major categories, namely the total proportion of lenses and spectacle frames and mounting parts, increased from 14% in 2016 to 17% in January-October 2017.
However, the optical industry in Hong Kong is also facing fierce competition from its peers in the neighboring regions. In order to meet the tightened requirements of the environmental protection law in the Mainland China, the optical industry has put greater emphasis on environmental protection and waste water discharge. In addition, rising production costs is another significant challenge faced by Hong Kong optical exporters. Higher raw material costs, wage levels and energy costs reduced the profits gained from economic growth. Therefore, in addition to taking measures to control costs, optical manufacturers also paid more attention to product design, technology innovation, and quality management in order to remain competitive. Some Hong Kong manufacturers upgraded their business by adding components of original design and manufacturing operations. Some operators made a bigger move by shifting their business focus to original brands and developing their own product brand. Eyewear manufacturers have shifted their focus from production to design and branding.
Because of the aging population worldwide, the optical industry has noticed an increasing demand for reading glasses. Advances in digital technology have changed the lives of people of all ages. Increased use of digital devices may affect users' vision, especially for younger consumers. We anticipate that the protective lenses that effectively block harmful blue light will be a regular feature of children's eyewear in the future.
Sports is another growth area. Traditionally sporting glasses tend to make use of strong yet lightweight materials. The growing popularity of individual sports has accelerated the development of sporting glasses to meet the latest sporting models and trends. Moreover, product design, regardless of the eyewear type, is the key factor to consider for consumers. Sunglasses are considered as indispensable fashion products. In addition to stylish appearance, sunglasses also have to be equipped with eye protection functions. It has been one of the fast-growing markets.
Hong Kong optical manufacturers do not only have a keen sense of fashion and style but also actively upgrade and invest in new technologies. Because of this vision and pursuit of innovation, Hong Kong can remain as the primary design and manufacturing supplier for famous global brands, and this can also help Hong Kong manufacturers to establish their own local brands.