Australian drought impacts on skin supply26 April 2004
Chinese woolskin tanners, Henan Prosper, who claim to consume around 60% of the Australian shorn lambskin market, believe that the drought that has blighted the domestic woolskin market is now beginning to have a negative effect on their business. A major drought across Australia in 2002 has had a significant impact on the numbers of sheep being sent for slaughter. 'The number of stock being slaughtered in the past year and a half has fallen dramatically', Bill Stephen, general manager, Dynasty International, an Australian subsidiary of Henan Prosper, told Leather International. The drought has worsened an already declining situation. In the late 1980s there were 160 million head of sheep across Australia and this year the national flock is estimated to be around 98 million. 'The situation was made worse by the drought. The lowering of the floor price of wool has led to a large number of farmers getting out of the grass grazing business. It is just not economic for them', says Stephen. The situation has led to higher prices for raw materials and forced companies such as Henan Prosper to source skins from elsewhere. Even their strong buying power has not prevented Henan Prosper from paying higher prices for Australian woolskins.