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U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Industry Exports $2.04 Billion Worth of Goods in 2016

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Washington, D.C. – The United States hide, skin and leather industry exported more than $2.04 billion in cattle hides, pig skins and semi-processed leather products in 2016. Although total export value remained lower after peaking in 2014, the pace of decline slowed compared to 2015.

U.S. hides and skins companies – including producers, processors, brokers and dealers – regularly export more than 90 percent of total U.S. production of these products and are one of the top raw materials suppliers to the global leather manufacturing industry.

“The hides and skins industry is a major success story for U.S. agriculture and exports,” said Stephen Sothmann, president of the U.S. Hide, Skin and Leather Association (USHSLA). “The industry has positioned itself well to capitalize on a highly dynamic, integrated global leather marketplace.”

According to U.S. Department of Agriculture data, U.S. exports of wet salted cattle hides (cattle hides that have been preserved using brine solutions) dropped to $1.39 billion in value, a 5 percent decrease from 2015 levels. Exports of wet blue cattle hides (semi-processed hides that have undergone the first stages of leather tanning) similarly fell 19 percent to $606 million in value.

China was the largest buyer of both salted and wet blue cattle hides for the year, with imports of wet salted cattle hides valued at over $861 million and $217 million of wet blue cattle hide products. Other large destination markets included Korea, Mexico, Vietnam and the European Union.

U.S. pigskin exports likewise dropped 16 percent in value to $32 million. The largest markets for U.S. pigskins continue to be Mexico and Taiwan, accounting for the vast majority of all U.S. exports.

The export data reflects sluggish global leather industry market conditions in recent years. A variety of factors, including economic slowdowns in China and reduced leather utilization in footwear globally, have pushed leather demand lower. However, many in the industry see the trend improving in 2017 as leather is reincorporated into more product lines, especially footwear.

Given its dependence on trade with foreign markets for its continued livelihood, the industry is also monitoring the global political situation very closely.

“We have concerns about the political rhetoric surrounding international trade of late,” Sothmann noted. “It is our hope that any policy revisions to the existing international trading system will not negatively impact a thriving U.S. industry’s ability to compete just as our market is beginning to expand.”

Complete industry export statistics are available on the USHSLA website by following this link .

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