This edition of the Panamerican Leather Fair was always going to be small. The show had been shrinking in recent years along with the North American leather industry. The terrorist attacks last year resulted in a number of further cancellations and the organisers have had to admit defeat and regroup.

There is still a leather industry in the USA and the country still represents the most important market in the world. There is, therefore, a need for some form of showcase. The new show is called Source International and embraces materials, technology and fashion. The leather sector will be incorporated within the scope of materials.

The organisers say that SI will combine the three key elements of sourcing – materials, private label products and the technology/logistical support, including packaging, that bind the process together. This one-stop sourcing environment is targeted towards sourcing managers, product development managers, specifiers, buyers, stylists and designers – the drivers behind the supply chain management wheel.

This last edition of PAL did not quite manage to fill one hall. While there were around a dozen Chinese companies across leather, products and chemicals, there was a paucity of European companies. In addition to two French tanneries, Du Puy and Dupire plus Roggwiller who have companies in France and Louisiana, there were Conceria Atema from Italy, Freudenberg from Germany and Masure from Belgium. There were no Spanish or British exhibitors and the huge Italian pavilions of the past were notably missing.

The Mexican and Brazilian pavilions were also conspicuous by their absence, although Wyny and two other companies from Mexico exhibited independently. Given the current financial problems in Argentina, it was hardly surprising that only Arlei Leather Group made it to the show.

John Koppany of Cidec, one of the visitors to the show, said that although the country was once more on the brink or hyperinflation, the Argentine leather industry would survive because the meat eating habits of the nation ensure a good supply of hides which are already traded in dollars.

One of the largest contingents of exhibitors centred on the American alligator, which lives in only two states in the US, Florida and Louisiana. In order to conserve their natural habitat, the wetlands, it is necessary to collect eggs from the wild and raise the creatures on farms, releasing a certain percentage back into the wild. Only by proper management of this valuable resource does it provide landowners with sufficient incentive to retain the wetlands rather than drain them and sell the for real estate.