Basically, in the period around the Hong Kong fair and just after it, there were reports of large volumes of hides sold to Chinese tanners at fairly low prices. However, at the end of May it has been suggested that some of the American suppliers told their customers that they would ship the lower priced hides after the older higher priced hides that had been booked towards the end of last year were taken up. The Chinese buyers are supposed to have baulked at this proposal and refused to honour their older contracts resulting in a stalemate situation.
The Chinese buyers then turned to Europe to try to source hides for prompt shipment. This demand is not believed to be driven by finished leathergoods sales but by shortage of supply from America.
This is a peculiar situation as at this time of the year American kills are generally at their highest whereas in Europe kills are at their lowest.
Italy is preparing for their annual shut down and there is a distinct lack of interest from that part of the world for any hides at increased prices. Therefore, some sellers wonder if the letters of credit for these new sales will be opened if the Chinese and Americans reach some sort of a compromise and with the volatility in the currencies what these prices will actually work out at.
So even in our normally quiet summer period there is some excitement:
36kg+    50p ($0.80)
31/35.5    60p ($0.96)
26/30.5    65p ($1.04)
Cows £14.50 ($23.20).
Doubleface lambskin business increased in volume as the kills increased but the market was under pressure from a lack of buyers. English skins fell back 50p to £2 ($3.20) per skin and Irish skins fell back to £3.20 ($5.12). It will be a long hot summer for the skin trade.