The slow as molasses growth of leather exports from India, which for previous financial year has turned negative reflecting the declining demand of leather from European and Chinese markets. Europe and China are two major exports markets for India.
In financial year 2018-19, the leather and footwear exports totalled US $ 5.7 billion, down by 0.85 per cent from 2017-18, according to DIPP reports. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion statistics show a dismal picture of leather industry which has marked negative growth for the third time in the last five years.
High costs incurred with the production of leather due to its labour intensive nature is the reason foreign markets have been looking for alternatives to cut costs. Fashion fraternity is also showing less interest towards leather-based products in their collection due to backlash by animal care organisations.
Another reason is the widespread awareness among consumers of global warming. Consumers are asking for alternatives of leather and better designs. Therefore, synthetic leather has been gaining momentum leaving behind natural leather because of cruelty free nature and lesser costs.
However, exports of footwear can still find hope as the demand for footwear, the value-added product of leather, is still prominent.
Indian leather industry, which employs around 40 lakh people from economically weaker sections, has many competitive advantages as the country has an abundant source of raw materials. According to Council for Leather Exports, 20 per cent of the world’s cattle and buffalo, and 11 per cent of the world’s goat and sheep population are found in India. Around 12.9 per cent of the world’s leather production of hides and skins, and 9 per cent of the global footwear production take place in India.
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