Pink paint supply chain shortage & near-shoring at Mattel

Barbie manufacturer Mattel has expanded production from Asia to Mexico to safeguard its supply chain. Now, it’s building a theme park

Mattel is a purpose driven company on a mission to make toys that inspire and entertain children, as well as develop their learning through play. Founded in 1945 and headquartered in El Segundo, California, Mattel toys are sold in 150 countries. The company has factories across the USA, China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Mexico. 

Mattel has a wide portfolio of brands, including American Girl, Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels, Masters of the Universe, MEGA, Monster High, Thomas & Friends and UNO, with a revenue of US$5.bn.

17 days after its release, the Barbie movie made US$1bn (or, a 'Barbillion') making director Greta Gerwig the first woman to do so.

Here, we take a look at Mattel’s manufacturing.


Fantastic plastic waste reduction at Mattel

Mattel’s ESG strategy fits into three pillars: 

  • Sustainable design and development
  • Responsible sourcing and production
  • Thriving and inclusive communities

In 2021, Mattel created Barbie Loves the Ocean, the first doll made from recycled ocean-bound plastic. The same year, Mattel achieved a 79% waste diversion rate. But by 2030, the company has a goal for zero manufacturing waste. 

“At Mattel, our aim is to contribute to a more diverse, equitable, inclusive and sustainable future,” said Ynon Kreiz, Chairman and CEO of Mattel. “The progress across our ESG strategy and goals reflect our ongoing commitment to corporate citizenship and our purpose to empower the next generation.”

Near-shoring production with Mattel factories in Mexico

With manufacturing hubs in Asia, geopolitical concerns have forced many manufacturers to reconsider their supply chains and move factories nearby, in a process known as near-shoring. In 2022, Mattel opened a US$47m factory in Nuevo Leon State, Mexico, the company’s largest plant in the world which has employed 3,500 people.

“Nuevo Leon has a strategic position in the north of the country,” explained Ivan Rivas Rodriguez, Economy Secretary of Nuevo Leon State. “It has the right infrastructure and skilled labour. This investment positions the State as a leading producer in the toy industry, not only nationally, but globally and we hope will attract co-manufacturers and suppliers to the region. We look to continue creating initiatives that promote the economic development of the country and contribute to job generation.” 


Pink paint supply chain shortage for manufacturer Rosco

Rosco Laboratories manufactures products for the entertainment industry, including coloured lighting filters, fog machines and paint. Movie production of Barbie emptied Rosco's global supply of pink paint.

"They used as much paint as we had," said Lauren Proud, Vice President of Global Marketing at Rosco. "They did clean us out on paint."

Proud admits that there was a paint shortage prior to filming Barbie, due to the supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. As families were locked down together during COVID-19, many decided to face long-delayed home renovation projects. DIY activities increased by 50%, compared to before the pandemic.

But now the pandemic is over (for now), people are out of their homes and enjoying life in cinemas and theme parks. In 2024, the Mattel Adventure Park will open in Arizona.

“Construction is underway and substantial progress has been made on what will give fans of all ages a day of thrills and nostalgia,” said Julie Freeland, Senior Director of Global Location Based Entertainment at Mattel. 

Hot Wheels roller coasters and a life-size Barbie Beach House are among the attractions - hopefully they have enough pink paint. 


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