A Look At The Leather And Hide Industry

FarmBiz|November 2019

A Look At The Leather And Hide Industry
South Africa’s leather industry has come a long way from mainly supplying leather boots during the world wars in the early to mid-20th century. Since the British and Dutch colonies brought this industry to South African shores, the local leather and footwear value chain has diversified into multiple subsectors.
Claudi Nortjé

However, market conditions are not always favourable, especially since the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) earlier this year in Limpopo.

Leather subsectors

The South African leather industry comprises the domestic market, export market and the subsectors of footwear, leather goods, handbags and luggage, crocodile leather, ostrich leather, and taxidermy. With unfavorable market conditions currently setting in on a local and global scale, the country’s leather industry is continually faced with various challenges.

In 2009 the Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) was introduced in the footwear, leather, clothing and textile sectors to combat growing pressures created by inexpensive and illegal leather-related imports. Since then, the support provided by the CTCP has helped the South African leather industry to grow by 13,39% from 2010 to 2013. The leather and footwear export sector also grew by 167% between 2010 and 2016, increasing from R1,98 billion to R5,29 billion.

Industry threats

However, other industry threats still loom. Hide wastage, stemming from informal slaughter practices throughout the communal cattle farming landscape and South Africa’s loss in the automotive leather market share to countries such as India, Eastern Europe, and Brazil, are hindering industry growth.

Challenges in the footwear industry, both locally and globally, include the increased use of synthetic leather coupled with automated manufacturing lines. Other problems include the slow development of entrepreneurial activity throughout the South African leather industry.

However, the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is establishing centers of footwear and leather goods entrepreneurship to ensure that demand for hides and skins is driven from within the South African economy.

Hides and skins sourced in SA

When it comes to bovines, the amount of recovered hide depends on the meat production of feedlots. Goatskin supply is low and sheepskin is mainly produced with the export market in mind.

Ostrich leather is used for shoes, clothes, and handbags. Smaller amounts of leather are sourced from wild animals such as elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, and snakes and are considered exotic, which usually guarantees a higher selling price.

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November 2019