FUR COMMISSION USA PRESS RELEASE
by Simon Ward
The global supply of ranched mink headed for the next round of auctions starting in December is believed to have grown for the second year in a row. All of the top five producers monitored by Kopenhagen Fur (four countries plus one region, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States) have increased output this year.
With the auction season still ahead, Kopenhagen Fur is keen to underline that these are estimates only, and that the estimate for Chinese production in particular must be treated with caution.
That said, the world harvest this year is forecast at 54.13 million pelts, up 7.0% from the 50.58 million produced in 2010. This is still down a shade, however, from the all-time high of 55.79 million produced in 2007.
Output for the world’s largest producer, Denmark, is forecast at 15 million this year, up 7.1%. Forecasts for other major producers are: China: 13.5 million, up 17.4%; the Netherlands: 4.9 million, up 1.0%; Poland: 4.9 million, up 15.3%; CSI/Baltic States: 4.8 million, up 1.0%; the US: 3.2 million, down 5.9%; Canada: 2.4 million, up 9.1%; Finland: 1.7 million, down 12.5%; and Sweden: 1 million, unchanged.
Of particular interest this year is the continued strong growth in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, given the financial crisis and depressed economic conditions in the region.
Denmark has broken the mold to increase output after four straight years at 14 million. Poland is also continuing its strong expansion trend which goes all the way back to 1994, when it produced just 30,000 pelts, and the end is not in sight, says Kopenhagen Fur’s manager in Poland, Olger Scheepers. "Production will probably continue to rise over the next few years, so Poland will produce about 7 million skins instead of just under 5 million pelts produced here today," he said.
Meanwhile, of perennial interest is production in China, both in terms of quantity and quality.
Just over a decade ago, in 2000, China produced some 3.3 million pelts, but although it already ranked as the world’s number two, it was far behind Denmark, with 10.9 million. It then embarked on a dramatic expansion, peaking in 2007 with an estimated output of 18 million pelts, or about one-third of world output. The following year, production plunged to about 13 million, and in 2009 slumped further to just 10 million. Inexperience in mink husbandry was blamed, and poor quality pelts and low prices were the result.
This year, however, Kopenhagen Fur believes it may have recovered to 13.5 million, but acknowledges it is really a guessing game. China does not publish official figures, and until now the majority of its pelts, being of industrial quality, have been consumed domestically rather than passing through the international auction system. The numbers, however, are so large, that considerable anxiety exists among Western producers in case the day comes when Chinese farmers challenge for the premium pelt market.
Also of interest again this year will be Kopenhagen Fur’s prediction of US output. Last year it estimated output at 3.4 million pelts, which would have made for the largest US crop since 1989, assuming records compiled by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the USDA are correct. This raised a few eyebrows in the North American auction houses, and by the time the auction season was over, NASS reported that 2.82 million US pelts from the 2010 crop year had actually gone under the hammer.
Yet Kopenhagen Fur has not seen fit to revise its 2010 estimate, while for 2011, it forecasts production in the US of a still impressive 3.2 million, larger than any harvest reported by NASS since 1991. Take your pick.
(1) See “European Mink Production Growth in the Millions,” Kopenhagen Fur press release, Nov. 23, 2011.
(2) See “US mink production dips, auction prices surge to new high,” FCUSA press release, July 9, 2011.
US Mink: State of the Industry 2010. FCUSA commentary, Dec. 23, 2010.
NOTE TO USERS RE: Global production estimates:
In 2011, for the first time, FCUSA is publishing estimates compiled solely by Kopenhagen Fur Auctions, covering the period 2008 – 2011 (see first table). For reference, also reproduced below are estimates from 2005 – 2010, compiled by Oslo Fur Auctions, and by Finnish Fur Sales (now Saga Furs) in cooperation with Kopenhagen Fur. The fact that there are small discrepancies in overlapping years is unsurprising. The only significant difference is that Kopenhagen Fur combines the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic States, which means Russia, Belarus and Ukraine (a de facto CIS member) no longer appear as separate line items.