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A Fur-Free Future Depends On China

With mink producers around the world hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak, countless countries have been putting a stop to animal farming. This has added to a drop off in the use of fur in fashion due to growing animal rights concerns, numerous anti-fur demonstrations, and a rise in quality fur substitutes and alternatives. Over the past three years, Gucci, Burberry, Michael Kors, and others have gone fur-free, while numerous retailers and fashion weeks have banned its use.

However, while global attitudes towards fur are changing, China’s case requires specific attention. Though consumer sentiment is embracing animal welfare, the country remains the largest markets for fur consumption. And now, given the implications of the pandemic, China could become the world’s leading suppliers of fur too.

According to Humane Society International, China’s fur animal farming industry is currently worth $61 billion and, therefore, is a notable contributor to local growth and employment. Peter Li, the China policy specialist at Humane Society International, explains how that is especially pertinent in China’s economically underdeveloped regions in North and Northeast China.

Even so, the charity group ACTAsia pointed out in its 2019 China Fur Trade report that China’s role in the global fur chain, which is worth more than $22 billion a year, has historically been underestimated. The latest figures from the China Leather Industry Association on mink production show that it produced substantially more pelts than expected — 11.69 million rather than the predicted seven million in 2019.

In early 2019, the auction house Kopenhagen Fur had already predicted that global mink production would drop to around 37 million pelts. Despite a pre-existing oversupply of deadstock, the culling of mink in 2020, most notably in Denmark (15 million pelts), has further reduced supply. The International Fur Federation warned that worries over a sudden shortage of mink forced prices up by as much as 30 percent in Asia.


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