Leather is an extremely flexible and durable material obtained from processing rawhide and skin from various animals (cow, buffalo, sheep, goat etc. and also some exotic animals such as crocodiles, mink etc.). Leather production, leather goods manufacturing and its trading form part of an established industry that has flourished with the passage of time. The present world being the global market in itself has a high place and value for leather goods and accessories. Leather today is used in the manufacturing of everything from furniture to daily wear and that makes it one of the biggest industries that have taken the world by storm.
Inception of Leather
Leather is not a material of today. There have been a myriad of stories of ancient men who used to hunt animals for skin and food. The animal skin being tough and durable covered their body from the harsh environment. Some historical facts also reveal tales about leather utensils made by these medieval men.
Fast forward today with the inception of technological tools and adoption of scientific researches, several forms of leather are regular features of the market. The different leather types vary in terms of their texture, finesse, look and feel and of course, the characteristic smell.
Different Forms of Leather
Composed of premium material, high grain leather is the most original form of leather that is dyed. It carries the characteristic smell, the soft yet robust texture and looks attractive on the first sight. The biggest incentive of using accessories of this leather is that it tends to look better with age and if originality is your mantra, this is the real leather to go for.
Split leather is a type that is fragile but is treated with different materials to make it tougher. Suede leather, on the other hand, has all the leather grains removed and brushed off to give a more raw and fuzzy feel to it. For this reason, both suede and Verona are the most popular of choices in the manufacture of leather goods as these are rampantly used for domestic purposes.
The various forms of leather are – full grain (most expensive), top grain, split and bonded leather (cheapest). Patent leather is another form which has high gloss because of a plastic coating applied to it.
Leather Manufacturing Process
Leather manufacturing primarily follows these broad steps – preparation (preservation, soaking, liming, unhairing, fleshing, splitting, degreasing, bleaching, pickling and depickling), tanning (makes the leather stable) and crusting (finishing by thinning, retanning, lubricating, drying and softening).
Various Leather Goods and Accessories
The most abundant use of leather is in its various accessories sported by both men and women. Some of these items include:
- Leather document cases and holders
- Leather decoration pieces
- Leather picture frames
- Leather briefcases and suitcases
- Leather belts
- Leather purses and bags
- Leather cigar Humidors
- Leather shoes
- Leather wallets
- Leather jackets and other leather fashion wear
- Lastly, leather finds use in premium leather sofas and other furniture as well
Leather shoes, belts, bags and jackets carry a versatile charm for men and women. The jackets popular for different graces such as bomber, perfecto, barns and trench coats are all able to sport a distinctive aura. With women, designer leather shoes and handbags with chic patterns and trends are nothing short of a fashion statement that they love to invest in and show around.
International Trading of Leather
The leather industry has evolved from one that was previously dominated by the industrialized nations (the west) to one that’s now mainly dominated by emerging and developing countries (the east). Trading has crossed US $85 billion by some estimates and growing. The developing world today has gotten a hold on the entire supply chain from supply to production as they learn and adopt latest technologies by which they produce value added leather goods.
The leather industry today, has its fingers dipped across many frontiers. The major parts of the world that have contributed significantly in terms of its extraction as well as processing include Russia, United States, China, India, Thailand and Pakistan.
Asia, overall, is a sizeable contributor in leather import and export and its various products. Large scale annual leather trade fairs are exhibited in Shanghai and Bangkok. India too has a major share in leather production and its import and export. According to an online database, Indian buyers aggregate for a share of about 3% of the worldwide leather importers. The European market is the biggest platform of leather exporters where Indian leather is largely recognized for its high quality products within reasonable price ranges. On the other hand, the scale of supply and demand of leather goods and accessories is thriving within the country India. The boost in per capita income along with significant increment levels of economic development is greatly up scaling living standards in the country.
France, Taiwan and China are known to be the big players in pigskin leather. This leather type is used in bags, garments and other wide array of leather products in the market.
The biggest raw leather (hides and skin) producing and exporting nations today are – Italy, USA, China, Hong Kong, Turkey, Brazil, Germany, India, Pakistan, Australia, South Korea, Spain, France, Argentina, Netherlands and UK.
(See charts and graphs below)
On the flip side, the biggest raw leather importing nations are – China, Italy, Hong Kong, Viet Nam, Germany, South Korea, Mexico, France, Spain, USA, Turkey, Romania, Thailand and Poland.
(See charts and graphs below)
Unsurprisingly, the biggest value added finished leather goods exporters are – China, Italy, Hong Kong, France, Germany, India, Viet Nam, USA, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Pakistan and Spain.
(See charts and graphs below)
And lastly, the biggest importers of finished leather products are – USA, Hong Kong, Japan, France, Germany, UK, Italy, South Korea, China, Spain, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium, Russian Federation, Australia and Singapore.
(See charts and graphs below)
Leather and leather products have been in demand since time immemorial. Recently, many manufacturers and traders have hopped in the international market to reap huge profits from the industry that is only moving forward. The mass level of globalization with the advent of the internet has greatly transformed the conventional methods of leather exports and imports. Today, B2B portals such as go4WorldBusiness.com allow businesses and traders to procure and sell manufactured goods across borders with relative ease. The global market with its shrunken and village state has enabled small economies like India and Bangladesh to step up the ladder and come in pace with international standards of trading. As more and more individuals and businesses continue to get online, the production and trading of leather and value added products can only be expected to increase with time. Therefore, high levels of investment in leather, both in raw and finished forms will be a highly rewarding activity in the near future.
9 thoughts on “Leather Industry & Import Export”
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