Are you wondering why Lodge cast iron is inexpensive compared to other cast iron companies that make their pans in America?
Or why so many US companies make their cast iron products in China?
Most people understand that making products in China results in lower prices for the consumer. And that US-made products mean higher prices.
So, when a US manufacturer offers a price comparable to what you would get from China, it may raise a few questions.
Unfortunately, I can’t explain the complexities involved with why the US does so much of its manufacturing in China versus here in the States.
However, one reason that US-made products often cost more is that we pay our workers higher wages. I’m sure there are other factors as well.
But let’s get back to the question.
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Why is Lodge Cast Iron Inexpensive?
Lodge’s desire to pass on lower costs without compromising high quality has driven them from the beginning. By implementing new and cost-effective ways of manufacturing, they can keep their prices down. Most of their competition comes from cast iron products made in China since other US companies have opted to make specialty pans that indeed cost more.
Over the years, Lodge has sought to keep up with the needs of its consumers. One of those needs was keeping their prices low. And offering inexpensive cast iron cookware meant innovating.
For example, from 1950 to 1965, Lodge moved from hand-pouring their cookware to an automated molding process. The setup was costly, but now that it’s in place, manufacturing cast iron does not cost much.
After they moved away from hand-pouring, they also stopped machining their pans to be smooth. Many American-made cast iron companies have brought back the smooth cast iron pans through their own innovation. Still, their goal wasn’t to provide inexpensive cast iron cookware.
Machining or other innovative ways of getting smooth cast iron is costly.
When Lodge dropped machining, it went a long way in keeping its prices low. And when newer companies started up, they needed to charge more because it cost them more to make their pans.
These newer companies are not trying to compete with Lodge.
To read more about Lodge’s history, click here.
Desire to Pass on Lower-Cost, High-Quality Products
You might want to know if machining cast iron or otherwise making the skillet smooth affects the quality.
The answer is No. Smooth cast iron is a preference, and some people who want smooth pans opt to buy a Lodge and sand it themselves. Others who have the money buy from companies that provide that service.
But a Lodge skillet is ready to use as soon as you get it.
As far as quality, though, Lodge always has and still does make high-quality cast iron cookware.
And they are the only US company that offers affordable cast iron.
As I said, other US companies are more interested in making pans the way they used to with some innovation. These are excellent companies, but also expensive.
Lodge decided to take out the more costly and laborious aspects of machining, leaving the surface rough. Textured cast iron does not affect the quality. In fact, seasoning adheres better to a bumpy surface.
Additionally, Lodge saves money in two other ways:
- By not having to pay to ship the cast iron from overseas. As you know, cast iron is heavy.
- By foregoing an extra Lodge packaging box. You open the box it’s shipped in and find your pan with the label adhered to the surface instead of having another box to open.
However, even Lodge offers more costly cast iron options. Although they don’t machine cast iron anymore, their Blacklock series is smoother. It does cost more because it is more expensive to make. But it’s nice to have a choice.
RELATED > > > > > Why Consider Lodge Blacklock Cast Iron? – 5 Questions to Ask
Lodge doesn’t have any US competition, so to speak. Their primary rivalry is with products that are made overseas.
You might think that US cast iron cookware is of higher quality, and that may be so. But I believe that many US brands that make their products in China have control over the manufacturers they use. Additionally, they use US-owned third-party inspection teams to ensure the quality is up to their standards.
I guess what I’m trying to say is Lodge still has competition. They work hard to produce quality cast iron cookware at competitive prices.
I can’t say if the competition drives Lodge or not. But at the very least, it keeps them competitive. And people who would rather have a product made in the USA than China will always choose Lodge.
However, there is at least one competitor (Victoria) in Columbia, South America. You may or may not have heard of them. But they, too, are a family-owned business that has been around for many years.
RELATED > > > > > Lodge vs Victoria Cast Iron – Is One Better?
The Lodge Cast Iron Foundry Tour
As you can see, Lodge has worked to keep their traditional cast iron pans at a lower cost.
They do this by innovating in ways that help lower their cost to make the pans, and then they pass on those lower costs to the consumer.
But the one thing they won’t compromise on is quality. Lodge opted to stop machining their pans because it was expensive to do so, and now their pans come textured. But textured doesn’t affect the quality and has its advantages. Not only does it result in lower-cost pans, but it also makes the seasoning adhere better.
Lodge is the only US company that manufactures in their own country and offers cast iron skillets at a lower cost.
Their primary competition is with US companies that manufacture their pans overseas. Both can be quality and low-cost, but only one is made in the US. Other than that, Lodge’s only real competition is with Victoria Cast Iron.
If you are looking for a cast iron pan and are considering Lodge, check out my article on which size skillet you should get.