A world of opportunity15 May 2015
Fernando Bellese, marketing and sustainability manager at JBS Couros, discusses sustainable leather design with its social and environmental-monitoring programme, and the global partnerships taking the company from strength to strength.
The importance of Brazil as a major leather supplier to the whole world is unquestionable, but the way it positions itself has changed dramatically in the past few years.
The country has shifted its industry to become a reference for sustainability and technology. Moreover, it has moved further to show the credentials needed to be part of the fashion world and a trend-setter.
JBS Couros is an example of how it is possible to work, at the same time, with sustainability and the production of quality finished leather for high-end furniture and fashion brands.
Its social and environmental-monitoring programme is a good starting point for this approach. Through the heavy use of technology, JBS monitors its cattle suppliers in order to avoid the purchase of animals coming from farms involved with deforestation, rural conflict and social issues. This project has yielded international recognition and last year the CDP - an international NGO that supports the development of sustainable economies - recognised JBS as the food company that has made the biggest advance in efforts to reduce deforestation in the world.
Best in the world
In its tanneries, a robust traceability system is in place, allowing the tracking of the hides being processed all the way back to the slaughterhouses where they come from. This traceability gives information not only related to the origin of the hides but also to the processes and chemicals used, offering valuable information for quality control. From the 17 JBS Couros tanneries certified by LWG, all of them have grade A for traceability, demonstrating the robustness of the work in place and best environmental practices adopted by the company.
At the same time, the leather division of JBS has constantly invested in improving its R&D capabilities to master its design skills and develop a fashion culture.
Since 2013, JBS Couros has partnered with CICB and other Brazilian tanneries in the Design na Pele project, which brings together Brazilian designers to train and promote a creativity approach to the professionals involved in the development of new products at the tanneries.
The results were shown in different trade shows around the world and this year is being presented at Brazil S/A, a celebrated design event in Milan (pictured above).
But Design na Pele is not an isolated effort, and every year JBS Couros is investing more to become a reference in leather design for the fashion and furniture industries.
A recent move helps to gauge the company's intent. Last month, JBS Couros confirmed the acquisition of Conceria Priante in Italy. With more than half a century of experience, Priante is an international presence within the high-end fashion world, for its leather design philosophy with a strong focus on creativity and experimentation.
Its history of constant work on technical and design research in the experimentation and development of new ways of interpreting leather will generate an entire new set of opportunities, allowing the use of Brazilian hides in the creation of leathers with high-added value.
It brings together JBS's international sales and production platform, strategic access to raw materials, high environmental performance and traceability, with Priante's creativity and innovative mind-set, offering a whole set of services for customers looking for assurance in the entire value chain of the leather industry.
At the same time, Conceria Priante will continue to develop its reputed brand; working with high-end furniture and fashion companies from all around the world, while it becomes the R&D, design and marketing centre of JBS Couros in Europe.
This new JBS Couros business division will help to consolidate the path set in the past few years, juxtaposing sustainability with design and creativity for the leather world.