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European sector spotlight

The Sedgwick brand protection Recall Index is the essential reference for consumer product manufacturers and retailers seeking impartial and reliable perspective on past, present, and future product recall data and safety trends.

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Product recall trends in 2021 were mixed across the consumer sector. Clothing saw a slight uptick of 6.3%, electrical appliances rose sharply up 44.9%, while toy recalls declined by 28.1%.

The latest edition of our highly coveted product recall index report offers a comprehensive year-in-review of 2021 consumer product recall data and trends, and insightful predictions for the remainder of 2022. It is the only report of its kind that aggregates and tracks essential data to help consumer product business leaders mitigate litigation and reputational damage caused by product recalls and other in-market product incidents.

While we strongly recommend you download and read the whole index, the following excerpt provides a glimpse into the key insights and analysis from the consumer product sector.

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+6%

clothing recalls rose in 2021

+45%

electronics recalls rose in 2021

-28%

toy recalls fell in 2021

The European consumer product landscape

The impact of the pandemic continues to be felt across the industry. Out of the 1,605 consumer product recalls in 2021 (spanning Consumer Electronics, Clothing and Toy industries) – 134 of them were for particle filter masks. Plastic dolls were the second most common product to be recalled, associated with 79 recall events, followed by fireworks with 41, and USB chargers with 36.

Overall, product recall trends in 2021 were mixed across the consumer sector. Clothing saw a slight uptick of 6.3%, primarily around children’s clothing. Recalls for electrical appliances rose sharply up 44.9% compared to last year, while the number of toy recalls declined by 28.1%.

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Recall index report

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Download the report

By the numbers: 2021 European consumer product recalls

Electronic product recalls

The consumer electronics industry saw a nearly 45 percent increase in product recalls in 2021 compared to 2020, marking the second year in a row that figures have increased. For the third consecutive year, USB charges were the most commonly recalled electronic appliance. Lighting chains were the cause of 32 product recalls, and LED lights and extension cords were cited in 30 and 26 events respectively in 2021.

In terms of notifications, Hungary was by far the top notifying country with 104 product recall notifications, or 31.9% of all notifications for the year. The country with the second-most notifications was Sweden with 45. The UK had been the top notifying country in 2020 with 88 product recall notifications. In 2021, it only registered 18 notifications, a three-year low.

As we have come to expect, most electronics products recalled were made in China. Of the 326 recalls for the year, 81.3% were produced there. The sixteen other countries mentioned as being a country of origin all had between one and four product recalls each.

Clothing product recalls

The number of product recalls for the clothing sector was up slightly in 2021 to 151. For the second year in a row, children’s sweatshirts were the most recalled items with 27 events, representing a 200% increase from 2020. There were 13 recalls for children’s trousers, the second most common product in this category.

Bulgaria had significantly more product recall notifications than any other country with 49, nearly one-third of all recall events for the year. The most common risk associated with product recalls was chemical, accounting for 37 events, and a total of 41 when combined with other factors. Strangulation was noted as the sole reason for 36 product recalls, but that number jumps to 48 if combined with injuries. Most of those recalls were due to cords/drawstrings on a range of children’s clothing products.

Toy product recalls

The number of toy recall events dropped by 28.1% in 2021 compared to 2020, with 433 product recalls notified for the year. Last year did follow the year-over-year trend of having the number of toy recalls in Q4 spike compared to the rest of the year. The most common category of product recall was plastic dolls, with 79 events. The most common risk type was chemical with 153 recalls as the sole cause, and a total of 172 if combined with other factors. Choking alone was noted in 132 toy recalls, but if other factors such as injuries, strangulation or suffocation are also included with choking, the number of associated product recalls increases to 175.

Poland took over the top spot in 2021 from the UK with 102 toy recalls. Hungary was second with 45. After seeing a dramatic reduction in product recalls in 2020, the number of notifications from France rose to 34, a 30% increase (but still much lower than the 56 notifications in 2019). The Netherlands, which has seen its number of notifications rise from five in 2019 to 64 in 2020 was back to more normal levels with nine in 2021.

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Recall index report

Get unrivaled analysis and perspective on the latest consumer product safety trends and regulation.

Download the report

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Whether you’re planning for — or currently facing — a product recall, market withdrawal or any other in-market product incident, our experts are on hand to support you.

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