Approximately 23 thousand visitors are expected at the All China Leather Exhibition (ACLE) 2019, scheduled from 3 to 5 September in Shanghai. An important fair that will turn the spotlight on the varied range of hides, skins and leathers, chemicals, components and machinery for the tanning industry with about one thousand exhibitors spread over eight pavilions, including twenty foreign collective groups including the Italian one led by Assomac, the association of machine builders for the leather area. At the moment expectations related to the Shanghai fair are affected by various situations, first and foremost the state of suffering of the Chinese tanning industry due to anti-pollution regulations, but more generally because of the global stagnation in leather demand which reflects very low price levels. An example? In 2017 the price of the Texas steer (the US hide that represents a benchmark) was 80 dollars, dropped then to 55 $ in 2018 and at the time of this writing it reached 33 $. A very low price level, due to the greater availability of hides as a result of a growing consumption of red meat in emerging countries, without paradoxically stimulating the demand coming from designers and manufacturers, who today seem increasingly oriented to use alternative materials to leather. The sneaker boom – which favours the use of synthetic materials – is held up as one of the causes of the decline in leather demand.
After all, the production of Chinese leather shoes in 2018 registered a decrease of about 19% passing from 4.4 billion pairs in 2017 to 3.6 billion pairs in 2018 which, albeit in the face of huge volumes, represents a significant downturn. While the use of leather in the luxury leather goods sector is still growing, the market of leather clothing came to a standstill and the automotive sector is starting to slow down. Last year, for the first time in twenty years, car sales in China dropped down (-4%).
According to recent data released by the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA), last year the production of light leather in China decreased by 20%. Also in 2018, imports of hides and skins dropped by 10.5% in volume and 25.5% in value, while those of semi-finished leathers dropped by respectively 6.7% and 10%, while tanned leathers fell by 11.7% and 8%. Nonetheless, the Shanghai fair represents an unmissable opportunity to see what the market is like, which despite its downturn continues to be one of the most important in the world, and to explore the possibilities offered by neighbouring countries, primarily Vietnam, where many productions have been relocated.