Update leather industry
By Arnaud Backbier
If the leather industry showed signs to pick up again in our view from a difficult 2019 then the Covid-19 virus is a new cause for uncertainty as it impacts global supply chains such as the supply chain of leather. This means for 2020 again at least for the first half year we continue to see uncertainty and yet at Smit & Zoon we continue to be tentatively positive. More and more parties in the leather industry join Leather Naturally and similar initiatives to make genuine leather again more visible.
In the fashion more leather is seen again during the fashion’s weeks in Paris and Milan. The debate on vegan and other materials whether which has a better footprint continues and it will as consumers and the different levels in the supply chain gain a better understanding of facts. This will continue for the years to come.
For the leather industry the impact of Covid-19 is hard to predict but if the disruption remains limited than we expect still that leather production will be better than last year. For the coming months for sure operational disruptions or delays will be happening as areas around the globe a in quarantine and the supply chains are impacted. Additionally, shipping is nowadays slow steaming, and container equipment is spread around as well as local trucking is hampered by the Covid-19 even though at the time of writing this update little significant impact is seen.
Where Lineapelle was relatively quiet (the visitor number was up!!) due to the absence of the Asian visitors due to Covid-19. The organization still reported a 2% increase versus 2019. The Simac Tanning Tech fair was well visited. The interest in new chemicals and equipment is positive. We see that another trend as part of the drive for sustainability is to pressure for more advanced industrialization of leather production and waste management more akin to car seat leather. Maybe it is time to revamp further the production assets and practices to stay competitive next to - and part of - making leather more sustainable.
How many wake-up calls does the Leather industry and you need?
I am proud to be part of the leather industry, an industry that has been making a huge progress to manufacture a sustainable material, bringing comfort, luxury and joy to consumers. Personally, I feel less and less need to go into the defence when leather is debated in comparison to alternative materials
In 2013, Smit & zoon Wet-end introduced the Simplicity concept. Simplicity means: shorter tannery processes providing attractive, high-quality leather while saving water and energy. Although each tannery uses different processes, the Simplicity approach can be used in any tannery and tailored to its operating methods.