Brazil remains one of the world’s largest sources of raw materials (particularly bovine) for the leather industry. Comparing the first six months of this year with the same period in 2001, the number of salted and wet-blue hide exports increased by 47.5 and 20.2% respectively. In terms of value, exports of Brazilian salted hides were worth US$2.7 million or 13.2% more from January to June than in the same period of 2001. Table 2 shows that 156,787 hides were exported compared with 106,288 last year.

A more interesting rise in volume of wet-blue sales (up 20.2%) was reported, while the total value of the same sales fell by 12% reaching US$181.4 million (table 3). This highlights that despite the fact that Brazilian tanners and traders exported 973,748 less hides last year the price per piece was far higher than this year. Brazil raw material exporters saw prices for their blue hides increase dramatically as the FMD and BSE epidemics struck during the first half of 2001.

By volume finished leather exports rose by a staggering 60.8% this year compared with last year as the price of Brazilian leather became more competitive on the world market helped by several devaluations in the national currency, the real, against the dollar. Exports of crust, ovine, caprine and sole leather have all fallen compared with 2001.

Italy was by far the largest buyer of Brazilian raw materials accounting for US$148.3 million compared with US$129.4 in 2001. The total figure of raw, semi-processed and finished hides and skins were worth US$439.9 million for the first six months of this year and is down slightly on the same period in 2001 when the figure was US$440.8 million. Apart from Italy, the other major purchasers of Brazilian raw hides and skins and leather from January to June were the USA (US$56.4 million), Hong Kong (US$55.9 million), China (US$38.8 million), Portugal (US$29.6 million) and Spain with US$11.4 million worth of sales.