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Raw Materials - Vietnam remains the bright spot for US hides
12 September 2019

Kate Nishimura of Sourcing Journal writes that the German chemical manufacturer BASF has announced far-reaching new investments in the footwear segment of its business.

The company will be opening new Footwear Development Centers in Thailand and the U.S., while expanding its center in Italy. It will also open a brand new Innovation Center in Taiwan, according to BASF’s head of communications, Susan Jackson.

Leatherbiz reports that exports of US hides have continued to decline in volume and in value, with further decreases in shipments to main markets China and Italy. However, increases in exports of the material to Vietnam may provide some solace to US packers and traders.

New figures, released by the US Hide, Skin and Leather Association, give the totals for hide exports from the US for the first seven months of this year.

From January to July 2019, US packers and traders exported just over 11.5 million wet salted hides and close to 2.3 million wet blue hides, giving a total of 13.8 million. The wet salted hides brought in export revenues of $465.2 million, while the wet blue exports generated revenues of $241.3 million. Shipment of these products brought in combined export revenues of $706.5 million.

In the same months in 2018, the corresponding figures were exports of just over 14 million wet salted hides and almost 2.9 million wet blue, giving total cattle hide exports of 16.9 million. This means that the 2019 figures show declines of 18%, 21% and 18.3% respectively.

In terms of value, exports in the first seven months of 2018 brought in almost $700 million for wet salted and a little over $290 million for wet blue, giving a total of $989 million. Again, this means each of the 2019 figures shows a decline, in this case of 33%, 17% and 21.4% respectively.

Year-on-year comparisons show that China bought 13% fewer wet salted hides from the US and 30% fewer wet blue between January and July 2019, paying 37% and 27% less, respectively. Italy has continued as the biggest buyer of US wet blue in 2019, but has acquired 32% fewer wet blue hides than in the first seven months of 2018 and has paid 26% less for them.

Only Vietnam has offered any real consolation to US packers and hide traders in this first part of 2019. Its imports of US wet salted hides increased by 115% in volume and by 37% in value, while shipments of US wet blue to Vietnam have grown by 12% in volume and by 22% in value.