25 August 2023

All China Leather Exhibition (ACLE) 2023 - Chinese tanners holding breath for ACLE outcomes

The upcoming ACLE fair, which starts next week (August 29-31), has meant that several tanneries are holding off on buying hides until they can gauge finished leather demand. After several weeks of higher-than-expected buying volumes, most tanners are well placed with good inventory levels, either physically held or booked for future delivery.

The summer hides from the U.S. have been in good demand, especially with slaughter numbers there lower than in recent years. Even without the trade fair, tanners would still want to buy steer hides at this time of the year.

The ACLE reports booking levels higher than expected, though not back to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. This is not a fair that is generally well-attended by international buyers or sellers, but even here the bookings are reported to be healthy. There is plenty of confidence from those tanners going into this fair.

Demand for finished leather is not great but is somewhat offset by the lower slaughter levels from many parts of the world. A large tannery group remarked that, if raw hide prices do not rise significantly, they expect finished leather demand to be high enough to absorb any hides that are offered. What they did not state is how high “significantly” is, although suppliers are sure to push until the ceiling price is found.

Steady prices for splits are also helping tanners feel better about the market, and there has once again been no price movement reported for this week. There is also the added bonus that the Chinese central bank has also reduced borrowing rates from 2.65% to 2.5% to help stimulate growth.

We live in a digital world, with many sales around the world completed without a spoken word being shared, but it should not be underestimated how important face-to-face meetings in this industry are between buyer and seller to conclude new business. This upcoming Shanghai fair has been long in the waiting for the Chinese leather industry. It has been four long years since anything on this scale has taken place in the country.

Ahead of the fair, the familiar segments of the leather industry are doing well, such as the automotive industry and luxury leather goods. On the other side of the coin, we have the shoe upper industry, which continues to struggle.

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