The leather of today approaches the market of tomorrowOn the eve of ACLE, the third World Leather Congress took stock of the current situation of the global market, in order to face ongoing changes
Shanghai hosted the third edition of the biennal World Leather Congress, promoted by the International Council of Tanner, picking up the baton from Milan and Rio de Janeiro, seats of the two previous editions, in conjunction with ACLE (which opened the following day). The topic of the meeting “The Leather Revolution: How the Industry Will Respond” invited an audience of about 700 participants to reflect on how to face the changes through which the sector is going, also under goading from associations and movements of critical mass.
Among the speakers, Luca Boltri, representing the UNIC’s Economic Department, illustrated the situation of the global leather area. Raw materials, which account for among 40 and 60% of the final cost of the finished product, has a very restricted offering of source: 95% comes from the food market. The geographical areas are well-known: 38% of bovine production comes from Asia, according to a growing trend that, after twenty years, doesn’t seem to decrease. South America supplies 22% of global demand, returning to the values of the early 2000s, after the peak of ten years ago. Compared to the past, the productions of the US (17%) and Europe (11%) are constant. The price trend is always see-sawing: the ovine, which in the past recorded very marked peaks (both upwards and downwards), confirms to be slightly decreasing compared to January 2016. Bovine, instead, is rising. Finally, the analysis of the pie chart of the intended use: for the first time, in 2016 footwear dropped below 50% (48.8). By contrast, the demand from the automotive industry exploded (15.2%), with an increase of almost five points since 2011.
However, from the work of the day there was the perception that the tannery of the future will have to take into account that now the market is decided by the consumer, who wants quickness, possibility of choice and price. Without giving up the increasing sensitivity towards sustainability, an issue that includes transparency in the supply chain and traceability. And, speaking of sustainability, Dietrich Tegtmeyer, President of IULTCS, underlined that it’s possible to discuss about more or less mandatory restrictions on chemicals, as long as one takes into account that chemistry keeps on being indispensable for processing; so, it’s impossible to do without it. It would also be important to reach different regulatory criteria between leather and fabric: these two materials are too different, with different reaction and absorption characteristics, for only one regulation.