Major cities worldwide look to Liuyang to spark displays at big celebrations
At the factory of Liuyang Dingteng Fireworks Co Ltd, a Liuyang, Hunan province-based pyrotechnic maker, workers are busy moving boxes into trucks. Some low-explosive devices, used for entertainment and ceremonial purposes, are to be shipped and lit at events from K-pop music concerts in Seoul and movie festivals in Cannes, France and Venice, Italy to National Day celebrations and university graduation ceremonies in many international locations later this year.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic and geo-economic headwinds have created operational difficulties and slowed business growth for many industries across the world in 2022, fireworks producers in China saw soaring overseas orders as demand rebounded in both developed and developing markets.
As "the world's fireworks capital", Liuyang — which manufactures more than 60 percent of the fireworks for global markets — saw its exports surge 84.9 percent on a yearly basis to 6 billion yuan ($885 million) in 2022, statistics from the city government showed.
"After exporting 400,000 boxes of fireworks in 2022, we are still holding more than 200,000 boxes of overseas orders in hand, thanks to the rebound of the European market," said Peng Xuejun, president of the export unit at Liuyang Yihelong Fireworks Group Co Ltd.
He said that major festivals and national events in overseas markets, such as Christmas, military parades and diplomatic activities, are the main drivers pushing fireworks orders to his company.
For instance, major foreign cities, including Sydney, Bangkok, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Las Vegas, all held various forms of fireworks displays on New Year's eve of 2023, according to information released by Liuyang's fireworks business association.
To ensure the safety of production and transportation, many companies in Liuyang have invested heavily in upgrading their production lines and warehouses with more digital tools in recent years, said Kong Xiangquan, deputy director of Liuyang's fireworks development center, a part of the city's bureau of fireworks management.
With these changes, large and small parts of various fireworks can be automatically filled and assembled at their factories, said Kong.
In addition to exporting fireworks products, Liuyang's fireworks display services have also gone overseas. Many companies in Liuyang have been receiving service orders for fireworks displays in foreign countries, he noted.
Li Wei, head of the overseas business unit at Liuyang Fengxin Fireworks Co Ltd, said that before the final lighting, the company's engineers, designers and workers need to customize the fireworks display related to themes based on client requirements, while arranging for the production of the corresponding products.
"After completing the preparations in China, we will ship the products and display equipment, as well as organize technicians to go to the site to install the equipment and display the fireworks," said Li, adding the company has conducted several large-scale projects in overseas markets including Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates since last year. There has been a significant increase in foreign orders for this kind of service.
As 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of Algeria's independence, the company sent 127 professional fireworks operators to travel to more than 50 Algerian cities and towns to carry out the displays at the same time on the same day in July last year.
Along with the team to Algeria, there were 760,000 rounds of various fireworks products, which were produced by the company within one month, he said.
Relying on the advantages of production, as well as the mastery of the characteristics and effects of fireworks products, many companies in Liuyang have begun to provide fireworks planning and display services for overseas clients in recent years, said Xiao Xianjun, director for technology at the overseas business unit of Liuyang Jeeton Fireworks Group Co Ltd.
"Foreign clients have booked more than 120 fireworks shows from us in 2022, up 20 percent from the previous year. These orders are mainly placed by clients in the Middle East, Central Asia and Europe," Xiao said.