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Leather Pipeline - The leather industry has been too passive
19 September 2018

There is a frank criticism of representatives of the leather industry in the latest edition of our exclusive, fortnightly Market Intelligence report, Leather Pipeline.

Referring once again to the predicament tanners face at the moment, largely as a result of the downturn in demand for finished leather among mainstream and athletic shoe companies, the report insists that a too-passive approach from many industry representatives is one of the main reasons.

It says companies selling leather failed to anticipate and interpret correctly the changes that were taking place in the footwear industry, and anyone who did see what was going on failed to respond effectively.

Furthermore, it says concerns about the level of threat leather faces from campaigns for animal rights and against meat consumption appear to have been misplaced because more and more hides are now available for tanners to buy and process.

The reason many leather manufacturers are reluctant to invest in lower-quality hides at the moment, in spite of prices that are now much cheaper than they have been in recent years, is that demand for the leather tanners can make from this material has plummeted. 

“The industry has been looking at the problem from completely the wrong perspective,” the report says. “Everyone was too busy worrying that leather might have to face the fallout from animal welfare campaigns, from anti-beef trends or environmental concerns.”

It says these issues may be making some impact “at the edges of the market”, but the main difficulty is that many footwear manufacturers now have a production set-up that lends itself much more to using alternative materials, which means using those alternative materials instead of leather is enhancing the shoe companies’ flexibility and margins.

Information courtesy of Leatherbiz