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The Fur Trade Today - 06/07/05

Published 06/07/05

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, fur trim imports into the USA increased 29% in February. More than half of it came from China.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 04/18/05

Thousands of minks have been flown via Iceland Air into Canada from Denmark, en route to mink farms in central Newfoundland. Danish fur farmer Jorn Mogenson said European fur farmers who have run out of land have been expanding into Atlantic Canada. By the end of this week, four large mink farms will be operating in the province.

Source: CBC News, 04/19/05

The Fur Institute of Canada has designed a program to push trapper education into high school curricula. As part of the program, participating students spend five months of the winter in an isolated camp, learning how to manage a trap line and live off the land. The FIC has a long-term strategy to promote its “Reconnecting With the Land program” in schools across Canada.

Source: Fur Institute of Canada, 04/19/05

North American fur sellers were experiencing “mild shock” at reports of the sharp manufacturers’ price increases, due to higher skin prices at auction since the Hong Kong fur fair in February. Major manufacturers in Hong Kong have raised their prices, despite prices being 10% to 20% higher than what they were in December. While the price increases did surprise retailers, many are unworried since they feel that their customers do not comparison shop for price. These upscale fur customers are more interested in quality than cost. Retailers add that few customers watch prices and are able to notice when prices rise and fall.

Rent increases in Montreal have fur-related businesses experiencing the same things they went through in New York several years earlier. The Gordon Brown Building, which is the hub of the hub of the Montreal fur district, is being renovated and tenants are being told that they can renew their leases when they expire at nearly twice the rent they are currently paying. The building used to be occupied almost entirely by furriers and fur-related businesses, but lately non-fur businesses have been moving in.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 04/25/05

The Canadian retailer Roots recently pledged to no longer sell fur. In a letter to someone who complained about a coyote fur-trimmed parka, Robert Sarner, the Director of Communication and Public Affairs for Roots Canada wrote: “The use of a real fur trim/collar in a couple of Roots jackets was an unfortunate oversight and aberration for Roots. In keeping with what Roots is all about, I can assure you that the senior management of Roots, starting with Co-Founders Michael Budman and Don Green, are committed to not using real fur in any future collections of Roots products.”

Source: Letter from Robert Sarner, 05/03/05

With the value of the U.S. dollar falling and the prices of skins on the rise, wholesale costs to retailers will be up again this year. Last year retailers found that customers did not balk at the higher prices, especially in the more exclusive stores.

Higher prices for factory farmed mink skins are good news for trappers who will be able to move more mink and beaver skins at higher prices. Retailers will also be looking for items with coyote and raccoon fur, which is more good news for trappers and bad news for the animals.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 05/09/05

Trials are underway to test whether artificial fur can be used to replace bear fur on ceremonial caps worn by Britain’s Foot Guard regiments. The skins of around 100 black bears are killed to supply skins for the ceremonial hats. The government claims that previous trials on artificial fur, made from such materials as nylon, have proved to be unsuccessful as it either soaked up water or became discolored.

The British Army has been trying for ten years to find an alternative to the bearskin fur because of rising complaints from animal welfare pressure groups, who have accused the Guards of being party to the slaughter of thousands of bears every year in Canada. The results of trials of an artificial fur are being awaited to see if industry has finally come up with a solution.

Sources: BBC News, 05/10/05
www.timesonline.com, 05/10/05

Overall business at the North American Fur and Fashion Expo in Montreal was down, and this was attributed to fewer attendees at the fair this year than it received in 2004. Buyers who did attend focused their attention on sheared mink since this item is increasing in popularity.

Vogue magazine gave a seminar at the fur fair which explained that furriers can extend their sales seasons to cover the entire year by featuring accessories and small pieces such as hats, bags, boots and other things that are being worn indoors.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 05/16/05

Thanks to a successful CAFT-UK campaign, the British retailer Selfridges has announced a change to its company policy in regard to fur. According to a company press release, “Selfridges has reviewed its policy on fur and will no longer be selling any fur products in its stores. This will come into force with immediate effect. This policy revision was made after taking into account customer feedback and a decline in demand for fur related products.”

Source: Selfridges, 05/17/05

Only weeks after garment manufacturers in Hong Kong raised prices at the wholesale level comes word that wholesale garment prices will be on the increase yet again. Buyers representing more exclusive stores said that they are not very concerned about the price increases, but those who operate in the moderate-priced ranges are said to be a little cautious. Fur farmers, skin dealers and brokers welcome the higher wholesale prices since it represents greater demand for their products and is a sign of better profit prospects.

The exact numbers of animals killed on Chinese fur farms are sketchy, but industry analysts speculate that about five million minks are killed annually. That number is expected to rise. Historically China has bred “Chinese mink” which are weasels, but the five-million figure reflects the number of animals bred from mink bought from fur factory farmers in Europe and North America.

Fur apparel imports into the U.S. have been taking a nose-dive for the first quarter of 2005. Data from the U.S. Commerce Dept. indicate that the total is down by 55% from the same period of 2004.

The 63-year-old Ritz Furs of New York City is going out of business. The building that houses the store on West 57th Street has been sold for a reported $25 million.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 05/23/05

Texas House Bill 326 would make any act of injury or death to an animal, even hunting or field trials, an act of animal cruelty; however a substitute bill introduced restores the exemption for hunting, fishing, and trapping in the section defining animal cruelty. Similar legislation has been attempted in Idaho, Kansas. and Virginia.

Source: American Trapper, May/June 2005, p. 4.

Mink prices increased once again at the recent North American Fur Auctions sales. Black mink skins were brought to their highest level in over twenty years. Garment prices are currently as much as 50% higher than last year, and the recent auctions will push those prices even higher.

Over the past twenty years fur factory farmers made a profit during only five of them. A fur farmer must sell a skin for about $35 U.S. in order to cover their production costs and break even. Last year mink skins averaged $40.10 and this year they are expected to be “considerably” higher. In 2003, the average paid to fur farmers was $30.60. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture will release the exact figures sometime in July.

The number of fur factory farms in the U.S. dipped another 5% in 2004, leaving only 307 currently in operation. These 307 fur farms killed 2.55 million mink. In 1969 there were 2,800 fur farms which killed 5.7 million mink. Fur farmers are expecting an increase of between 5% and 10% more minks to be killed this fall, since weather conditions have been favorable and there have been no significant outbreaks of disease.

Visitor attendance at the NAFFEM show was down 7% compared to last year and an official survey of exhibitors determined that 24% of them said business was down this year.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 05/30/05

The European Union may ban imports of dog and cat fur used in toys, EU Health and Consumer Protection Commissioner Markos Kyprianou said on Monday. Five EU countries — Belgium, Denmark, France, Greece and Italy — have banned such fur imports, but the 25-member bloc itself has no such ban. The United States and Australia also ban the fur imports.

Some two million cats and dogs are killed for their fur every year in Asian countries. The skins are then sent to Europe under false labels.

Source: Reuters, 05/31/05

According to figures released by the Pennsylvania Game Commission, hunters and trappers killed 196 bobcats (124 females, 70 males and two unidentified in report) during the 2004-2005 bobcat seasons. During the 2003-2004 seasons, 140 bobcats were killed; 135 in 2002-2003; 146 in 2001-2002; and 58 in 2000-2001.

Trapping was the most commonly used technique, accounting for 87% of the bobcat slaughter; 3% were killed by hunters using trained hounds, 6% were killed by hunters using predator calls and 4% were killed using other lawful methods.

Trappers who did not possess a bobcat permit captured and released more than 690 bobcats while pursuing other species during the 2003-2004 seasons. [This figure demonstrates the indiscriminate nature of trapping. — JM]

Source: Pennsylvania Game Commission, 06/03/05

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