There is a problem in France: warehouses are full of raw hides blocked by the lockdown. And there are about 3 million hides in stock now. What does Covid-19 have to do with it? It forced the marketplace, and during the “confinement”, lockdown in French, the collection of raw material for tanning didn’t hit the pause button.
French people, after all, continued to eat and slaughterhouses continued to work, even if they did so at a slower pace. Meanwhile though, the global tanning industry stopped and, even if it opened back up in May, demand was weak.
Raw hides blocked by the lockdown
As summarized by Les Echos, French news source controlled by LVMH group and usually attentive to the dynamics of the fashion industry, about half of all French raw hides is to be exported. Specifically to Italy (#1 buyer), China and Spain. “Sales to these countries decreased by between 30% and 35% during the period January-April, all while national tanneries were also revising their order quantities – explains Frank Boehly, president of CNC (Conseil National du Cuir) –.
Those storing the hides now have 3 million of them in stock and no longer know where to put them. They don’t want to destroy them, as it would be like if someone asked a farmer to throw away its milk”.
The solution can be offered by the government
What now? The recovery of the leather market is too slow to consume the stock quickly enough. As of now, with no refrigerated space available, the only option is to put the hides under salt. But it’s not a solution that can sustain in the long term, and as the main user of leather is the luxury segment, the problem is clear: “if the hides present defects they lose value and can no longer be sold”, warns Mr. Boehly.
The French government can provide a solution to the socio-economic crisis (that may even have sanitary repercussions, with organic material going bad). “The Ministry of Agriculture could help us by authorizing us to build new refrigerated warehouses – concludes the CNC executive -. Approval for a new site could take up to 6 months, but while we have made our demands with public authorities, they have remained silent”.