European Union10 October 2002
Greece There are currently around 60 active tanneries, of which half are located in the Athens area. Annual production breaks down as follows: * Bovine hides - 600,000m² * Sheepskins - 1,000,000m² Of this, 60% is finished and 40% wet-blue; 70% of the raw material used is supplied by local abattoirs, and the remainder is imported as wet-blue. Italy There has been a noticeable decrease in branding in the big islands of Sicily and Sardinia while warble persists in a diffuse area in southern Italy. There has been an increase in the dung problem, particularly in north Italy in the winter season, due mainly to open stalls. Livestock for the year 2000 is recorded at 7,245,000 head of cattle (-2%). The fall in meat consumption in western Europe due to changes in dietary habits had been aggravated by BSE and this has led to considerable reductions in the number of animals slaughtered and, consequently, in the availability of hides. For this reason, several countries had been forced to import massively to cope with the demand from local tannery facilities. While a number of countries have been gradually abandoning the tanning industry, Italy which has traditionally been active in this sector, has succeeded in not only maintaining their position but, to some extent, improving it. There are three highly important areas in Italy, each specialising in a different type of production: Chiampo Valley Area (Arzignano) This area is situated in the north-east of Italy and is one of the most important areas in Europe, specialising in the production of hides for decoration/furnishing (70%). Footwear production takes another 20% and clothing/leatherwear accounts for the remaining 10%. Around 50% of the hides worked are fresh hides; the remaining 50% are wet-blue. For the fresh hides, the countries of origin are: Germany, France, the UK and the Netherlands, whilst the tanned hides come from Russia, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and South America. Santa Croce Sull'Arno Situated in central Italy, this sector has as its main focus the conversion of hides for footwear (70%). The remaining production breaks down as 20% for leathergoods and 10% for clothing. The raw material is mainly bovine hides - for footwear, leathergoods and clothing - which are supplied as fresh salted hides, wet-white or wet-blue. For soles, the material used is almost exclusively fresh salted. 35% of the national production of hides and 98% of soles is concentrated in this area. With regard to the sources of these products, 75% of raw or semi-finished hides come from European and eastern European abattoirs, 15% from national abattoirs and 10% from north and south America. (Source: Association of Tanners and Consortium of Tanners Ponte a Egola) Solofra area Situated in southern Italy, this is the specialist area for small hides and skins for clothing and footwear, with the breakdown as follows: for clothing (65%); linings (15%); and uppers (10%). Supply of raw or semi-finished leather comes from: the Middle East, the UK, New Zealand, Nigeria and South Africa. The material used in the area is mainly goat and sheepskin, however, the type of raw material is constantly evolving. Until quite recently, the skins were mostly pickled but currently wet-blue is the most frequently used. * Wet-blue - 65% * Crust - 18% * Pickled - 15% * Others - 2% (Source: Union of Industrial Manufacturers in the Avellino province) There are other less important centres, such as in the Turbigo area plus many other tanneries spread right across Italy. In total, in Italy in 2000, hides have been bought for the following sums: * Raw hides - €2.5 billion * Raw hides for fur - €75 million * Tanned hides with and without hair - €2.15 billion Portugal In Portugal, the situation with regard to tanning can be summarised as follows: * Bovine - 90 approximately * Sheepskins - 10 approximately * Bovine hides from national abattoirs - 20% * Fresh imported hides - 30% * Wet-blue hides - 50% Imported raw hides come from Brazil, Russia, Spain etc. (Private source) Spain High quality Entrefino and Merino sheep breeds which are common in Spain continue to account for the country's raw materials exports. Table 8 shows that Türkiye and Italy continue to be by far the largest buyers of Spanish raw materials, particularly sheepskins which would typically be used for doubleface production. Furthermore, table 8 also shows that exports of Spanish raw materials were almost exclusively exported to other European destinations, with all of the top ten purchasers coming from the continent. In terms of value, the amount of raw materials exported from Spain also appears to be on the increase. Table 9 compares the years from 1999 to 2001 and shows that the value of exports has risen dramatically in that period. There are a number of possible reasons for the increase which include a dramatic rise in prices in 2001 due to the much talked about animal diseases and a reduction in the volume of national leather production in Spain. Approximately 50% of the bovine raw material tanned in Spain is imported (table 10). In terms of national livestock figures, the size of the national cattle herd rose steadily between 1995-2000, reaching 6.2 million head in 2000. The number of sheep and lambs remained relatively constant over the same period averaging around 23.7 million head. Goat and kid numbers also remained constant averaging 2.7 million. A full run down of the livestock figures is given in table 11. However, more up-to-date figures were not available at the time of going to press. United Kingdom The raw material situation for the tanning industry in UK and the rest of Europe has been particularly volatile over the past two years, with BSE in the UK and then in Europe, followed by the foot and mouth outbreak in the UK. All of this was superimposed on already changing trends in meat consumption and agricultural market support arrangements. At least 2002 seems to have settled back somewhat towards normal - whatever normal is these days. 2001 was generally a bad year all round. In the UK slaughter was down (cattle by 10% and sheep and lambs by over 20%) and both imports and exports of raw hides and skins, and wet-blue were down as well. This reflected the raw material situation and wider trade issues as well. The tables give an overview of the trends. But the first seven months of 2002 has seen something of a recovery in numbers of animals slaughtered in the UK - cattle numbers are up by 7.4% and sheep and lambs by 16.8%. Looking in more detail at UK exports of raw materials shows that the reduction was accounted for by the drop in exports of sheepskins - and this can be traced to the impact of foot and mouth disease, the related movement controls and slaughter, and the difficulties in recovering the skins.