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The Fur Trade Today - 09/01/06

Published 09/01/06

Finding a home for mink proving difficult
Residents express concerns even though proposed new site is within an agricultural zone

It’s now up to Environment minister Clyde Jackman whether or not to give the green light for a mink farm in the Lethbridge [Newfoundland] area.

Bonavista Fur Farm hopes to begin construction on a 43-hectare site off Route 230, near Lethbridge, this fall. The farm would initially house 5,000 female breeders, eventually expanding to 15,000 female breeders producing 75,000 kits annually.

However, some residents of Lethbridge have concerns about the proposal. Ruby Penney is one of them. She says one of the things they worry about is odour from the farm.

Source: The Packet, 07/31/06

Record year projected for seal hunt,
But protesters downplay estimates

St. John’s, NL — Despite fierce clashes between sealers and protesters and humanitarian appeals from high-profile celebrities, this year’s East Coast seal hunt is expected to be the most lucrative ever, federal Fisheries officials say...

Rebecca Aldworth of the Humane Society of the United States downplayed federal estimates showing a record-breaking year for the industry. “This is something that they’ve said every year over the past few years, that it’s the most lucrative on record, that skin prices are hitting record highs,” said Aldworth, director of Canadian wildlife issues for the organization. “The problem I have is that there’s never any proof provided of that. There’s never any published price lists from the processing companies.” Contrary to claims that demand for seal pelts is booming, markets in Europe are shutting down, Aldworth added.

Source: cnews.canoe.ca, 08/02/06

New Zealand: A dumping ground for the cat and dog fur industry?

Following the recent sale of a rug made from the fur of 16 domestic tabby cats, Auckland Animal Action is calling for the government to ban the importation and sale of cat and dog fur in New Zealand. AAA is also calling for the government to improve labelling regulations so that all products incorporating real fur must be labelled correctly.

Sources: Auckland Animal Action media release, 08/02/06
www.fibre2fashion.com, 08/03/06

Retail traffic through fur stores and departments, normally light at this time of the year, is described as even slower than usual. This is ascribed to the record-setting heat waves around the world that may have wilted consumers’ shopping plans, at least in North America and Western Europe. Not that July and August have been important months for retailers from a volume standpoint. Those early sales were welcomed as indicators of customer trends and possible guides to inventory maintenance.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/14/06

The average price of American mink produced in 2005 and sold at this year’s auctions increased 29.3% over last year’s levels and reached an all-time high, according to data compiled by the U.S. Agriculture Dept.’s statistical service. That crop totaled 2.63 million pelts, an increase of 3% over the previous year, and realized a total of $160 million compared to $120 million. The per skin average (male/female) was $60.90, versus $47.10 the previous year. The averages include commissions and fees paid to the auction companies. In the past two decades, there have been only six years in which prices averaged over $35, which ranchers consider break-even. In the meantime, the number of farms producing mink declined another 6% to a total of 277. That compared with 2,800 ranches and a crop of 5.7 million mink in 1969, when the government started keeping such records. Utah again led the country in terms of the number of farms with 70, down 10 from the previous year, but second-place Wisconsin’s 67 farms (unchanged) produced 778,000 pelts compared to Utah’s 600,000. There were 21 farms that also raised foxes, up from 17 the prior year.

This year’s production, based on the number of females bred, is expected to be up about 2%, according to the government figures. A recent check of ranching sources, however, indicated that this year’s U.S. crop should be about 3% to 5% larger, based on early kit counts, weather conditions and other factors (SPR, 07/17/06).

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/14/06

The International Fur Trade Federation last week launched its biggest advertising campaign yet. The three-pronged drive, each exploring a different aspect of fur, will showcase designer furs to 26 million people in more than 70 countries around the world. It is running in three major fashion magazines, beginning with the September and October issues of Vogue, the September and October issues of Elle and the September issue of Wallpaper*. The six-page Vogue program, titled “Furs for Fashionistas”, will run in 11 countries and reaching 16 million readers. The double-page spreads in Elle, under the heading of “Stand Out and Be Yourself”, will appear in 14 national editions reaching 10 million readers. The double-pager in Wallpaper*, entitled “Undercover”, will reach over 100,000 design-conscious readers in 70 countries. The garments and accessories featured are from Burberry, Roberto Cavalli, Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors, Julien Macdonald, Prada, Christian Dior, Fendi and Valentino. A behind-the-scenes video of the shoot can be viewed at www.fur-style.com.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/14/06

Kenneth Cole Gives the Boot to Cruelty, Pledges to Go Fur-Free

Leading fashion designer Kenneth Cole is known for embracing worthy causes. Famous for his shoes, he has said, “What you stand for is more important than what you stand in.” After executives of Kenneth Cole Productions met with staff of The HSUS this summer to discuss the suffering of animals caged, trapped, and killed for their fur pelts, the company pledged to go fur-free in all its stores, a huge step for fur-bearing animals.

Source: www.hsus.org, 08/18/06

From a merchandise viewpoint, the summer’s sales are described as having been across the board. But the main emphasis, stores report, has been on fashion merchandise, novelties and accessories.

Summer fur sales have been good at Neiman Marcus, which operates fur departments in most of its stores around the U.S. The company closed its fiscal year at the end of July and the fur division outperformed the rest of the company in gains over a year ago in comparable store locations, according to divisional vice-president Terry Thornton. He conceded that May and June “were not as strong as we would have liked, but July was very strong.” August, he said, got off to a slow start, “but no surprise considering the temperatures — and not so slow that it can’t be overcome.” Although the basics performed well, Thornton noted, the real gains were in designer goods.

Summer sales north of the border in Canada have been on the quiet side, attributed at least partly to the abnormally warm weather, but also to reduced spending by American tourists. The continued strengthening of the Canadian dollar has removed must of the incentive for Americans to travel and shop there, with the exception of such items as prescription pharmaceuticals, which are still a bargain in comparison to U.S. prices.

The summer also has not been kind to retail sales in Western Europe where, although temperatures have fallen short of the extremes reached in North America, the heat was blamed for wilting domestic retail traffic. Tourist spending, particularly by Americans, also was said to be off because of the weaker dollar in terms of euros. Compared to a year ago, the dollar is down almost another 10% against the euro. Italian fur manufacturers, who once enjoyed a lucrative domestic business — which included tourist purchases — have seen that domestic business virtually evaporate because of economic conditions and are now heavily reliant on sales to Russia and other former members of the Soviet Union whose economies have been benefitting from their turn toward capitalism.

Imports of fur apparel into the U.S. declined again in June, continuing the downtrend that began earlier this year and reflecting smaller orders placed by wholesalers and stores at this year’s fairs.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/21/06

The current magazine advertising campaign by the International Fur Trade Federation (SPR, 08/14/06) is getting a further boost. In addition to the spreads in the September and October international editions of Vogue, Elle and Wallpaper*, the double-pager appearing in Elle also is running in the fall issue of Elle Accessories, a semi-annual book that goes out to 400,000 high-income subscribers in the top 30 markets.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/21/06

Now in the final weeks of what has been one of the hottest summers in years, retailers on both sides of the Atlantic are looking for more moderate temperatures to speed the pickup in store traffic that some have already seen. As previously reported, August retail fur sales in the United States have been registering improvement over July and running about on par with last year, indicating that consumer interest is healthy. That in itself is a positive sign for the approaching fall-winter season. This has not been the case in Western Europe, however, where sales have been lagging because of economic and political factors and where American tourism and spending are down because of the dollar’s weakness against the euro.

European businesses are still on vacation and many trades — including fur shops — in Spain, Italy and France are closed this month. But even in Germany and other parts of Northern Europe, where retailers have been open in August, sales of furs and other outerwear are described as sluggish. This is attributed not only to lagging domestic demand, but also to a drop in tourism due to terrorism fears. On the other hand, there are reports of good early domestic business in northern parts of Russia and China, where high summer temperatures have already given way to more seasonable weather and people are preparing for their typically harsh winters.

But retailers also figure to benefit from even greater editorial support for furs, based on the enthusiasm shown by editors at the international fashion shows this spring. Much of this coverage has already appeared in print following the individual presentations — virtually all positive commentaries — but these reviews are likely to be recapped, along with photos, in the more meaningful September, October and November issues of many publications. The current situation as regards public relations for furs is in sharp contrast to what it was several years ago, when the trade found itself in a defensive campaign against various animal rights organizations. Both the trade’s PR and the media coverage now are more oriented to fashion — as they should be.

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/28/06

Increased world demand for sealskins has brought sharply higher revenues for this year’s Canadian harp seal harvest. The gains were said to have more than offset the higher cost of boat fuel, while providing sealers and other workers with greater income from the pelts, meat and fat. According to figures compiled by the Dept. of Fisheries and Oceans and released last week, this year’s harvest off the coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador amounted to 296,000 seals with a total value of $27 million (Canadian). In addition, the value of seals taken in Quebec Province was $2.7 million. By comparison, the value of last year’s harvest of approximately the same size was $17.5 million.

The annual hunt continues to generate a great deal of controversy, with celebrities joining animal activists in opposition. Confrontations, on the ice, have resulted in arrests of some protesters, but the anti-sealing campaign continues in the press and on the Internet.. Two years ago, animal rights organizations flew journalists over the ice field to photograph the harvest. At that time, The New York Times did not participate in those flights, but sent its own reporter whose better-balanced story made the paper’s front page. While it included photos of seal carcasses on the bloodied ice, it also detailed how the seal population had multiplied and was devouring the codfish supply, how new regulations had been put into place by the Canadian government to insure humaneness and explained how important the program is to the Newfoundland economy.

More recently, the Greenland home rule government rejected a recommendation to ban the importation of Canadian sealskins (SPR, 06/05/06). The decision was taken as a reaffirmation of Canada’s sealing policies in relation to the sustainable use of natural resources. The government further stated “... it is also paramount that Greenland and Canada join forces to maintain and develop seal hunting in remote coastal communities where alternative income opportunities are limited.” Meanwhile, the campaigners against sealing are not giving up. Among them is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), for whom sustainable use is not an issue. The organization has been taking out full-page ads in the Times and other newspapers calling for a boycott of Canadian seafood by restaurants, grocers and seafood distributors until the seal hunt is ended for good

Source: Sandy Parker Reports, 08/28/06

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