The logic behind organizing the Automotive Leather Conference in Barcelona, May 19-20, is based on the great number of unanswered questions relating to the automotive leather industry. The creator, Ron Sauer, LeatherXchange Global Information Services, said that if he knew the answers he would not need to organize a conference.

The first two questions on his long list are: how much automotive leather do you estimate the world actually produces and how much do you think that is of the total world bovine leather production? Sauer says: ‘I have estimations for the percentage of leather out of the total world bovine leather production that range from 2-20% – which only proves that nobody has a clue. My own estimate is 10-15% of bovine leather production but that is an opinion based on no facts.’

Since the car industry is one of the latest and fastest growing consumers of leather, absorbing enormous quantities, while at the same time world hide production has hardly increased, it must be presumed that other leather industries have reduced their share and importance in the world leather production. This leads to the questions of which ones and where?

The outlook for hide supply offering the required quality for the years to come is of obvious importance as is how the demand (quantity) from the car industry will develop? After all, the raw material supply is completely dependent on meat consumption so can it cope with the present and future demand for car leather?

In addition, the industry has to cope with daily price fluctuations in the prices of raw hides. While companies may have long-term contracts, can/do tanners always respect them? Also tanners do not control the quantities and the prices of the raw material and certainly not many months in advance.

Another, very important question is how new legislation on recycling, pollution control, the use of chemicals etc, will impact on both supply and prices. The very stringent regulations already in place are set to get a whole lot worse. These and many other issues will be explored at the conference.