Think twice – inside the Indian leather market

5 December 2016

Indian leather is to receive a double-boost in February from the XXXIV IULTCS Congress and the India International Leather Fair (IILF), both of which are in Chennai. Leather International looks ahead to an exciting time in a rapidly evolving market.

The International Union of Leather Technologists and Chemists Societies (IULTCS) is to gather for its 34th congress on 5–8 February, this time at the Central Leather Research Institute in Chennai. The last meeting, held in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil, in November 2015, was deemed a big success, so the pressure is on the South Indian city to deliver.

Considering the speakers lined up to attend and the broad spectrum of abstracts that have been submitted already, this edition looks like it will get 2017 off to an impressive start.  The overall theme of the Congress is ‘science and technology for sustainability of leather’, and will encompass the ways in which research institutes, chemical companies and various global organisations are working to develop the industry in a more environmentally responsible manner.

The topics to be addressed will include:

  • fundamentals in leather science
  • strategies for sustainability
  • innovation and value addition for leather
  • chemicals for ‘smart’ leathers
  • design innovation for lifestyle leather products
  • emission control strategies
  • enriching human capacity
  • global research alliances and partnerships.

Organised by the Indian Leather Technologists Association (ILTA) and CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CSIR-CLRI: one of the biggest organisations of its kind in the world), with key partners Council for Leather Exports, India (CLE) and the Indian Finished Leather Manufacturers & Exporters Association (IFLMEA), the expected number of participants is about 500, of which 300 will be from the host nation, with international guests making up the remainder.

Made in India

India has a current turnover of around $12 billion, and the leather industry is one of the sectors currently being focused upon by the country’s Make In India scheme. The South Asian nation is also planning to increase business to an ambitious $27 billion by 2020, when Council for Leather Exports (CLE) officials predict domestic turnover will reach $15 billion. India is also looking to exploit opportunities of lower labour costs for exports compared with China, which could vastly strengthen the sector.

Its leather industry is facing challenges, however, with falling demand in key export markets like the EU, and diminishing hide inventories due to the beef ban in Maharashtra, which saw exports fall by more than 10% in 2015-16. Against this backdrop, a Congress such as this will provide invaluable assistance to the country’s leather industry.

With the India International Leather Fair (IILF) just before the Congress, as well as the Chinese New Year, participants are in a privileged position to learn what’s at the cutting edge of leather technology, domestically and internationally.

Face time

“Chemists and leather technologists from all over the world are getting together to present latest ideas, concepts and projects,” says IULTCS president Dietrich Tegtmeyer. “In times like today, where knowledge can be shared electronically in so many different ways, I still believe it is of the upmost importance for everyone to discuss things face to face. Chennai 2017 will provide a perfect opportunity for such exchanges. Therefore I encourage every chemist and technologist in the field of leather to join the three days of the XXXIV IULTCS Congress.” 

Regarded as the world’s most important technical leather event, this edition will be only the second to be held in India (the first being in 1999), and it will bring together all major players in the leather and leather-product industries, as well as provide an opportunity for upcoming graduates and undergraduates of leather education to meet their peers.

“We all recognise that, for the growth of the sector, skilled manpower, with skill-sets ideal for various activities, is required,” commented XXXIV IULTCS congress convener Dr NK Chandrababu.

“The congress will therefore also take up discussions on enriching human capacity and global research alliances and partnerships, as it will see a conglomeration of the best minds in leather science.”  

How IULTCS supports next-generation research

The IULTCS initiative of investing in the next generation of leather research through its Young Leather Scientist Grant (YLSG) programme successfully enters its fourth year.

With financial support from Lear corporation, the programme continues to generate much interest.

Winning the much-coveted award represents an extremely prestigious achievement for academics and the institutions at which they conduct their research into the processes that underpin the leathermaking industry.

The grant of €1,500 will be awarded in January 2017 to a scientist under the age of 30 for research in the leather field. IULTCS encourages leaders in the industry to bring notice of the award to any institutions and individuals who are committed to research and the advancement of understanding of leather.

IULTCS: quick stats

Founded in London in 1897, IULTCS has 20 full-time members and six associate members. In addition to promoting the congress aiming to improve the sector, IULTCS also has commissions for liaison, environment, research, training and education, and test methods.

These commissions bring out strategic documents, test protocols and other useful articles, according to the needs of the leather industry.

India International Leather Fair

India International Leather Fair (IILF) is a three-day event being held 1–3 February 2017 at the Chennai Trade Centre in Chennai, India. This event exhibits a fascinating range of finished leather goods, footwear and footwear components, garments and goods, fashion accessories, machinery, equipment, chemicals and more.

This trade fair brings to the fore tips and information on the very latest trends, styles and colour patterns, as well as the material preferences that are in demand in the global leather markets, from which manufacturers can take cues for ideas that can then be implemented in their own business.

The fair is visited in overwhelming numbers by manufacturers, retailers, designers and exporters from around the world.

Chennai, capital of Tamil Nadu, South India.

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