2011 NASS Annual Report
The National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) of the US Department of Agriculture has issued its latest annual report on mink production in the US, up to the 2010 crop year, sold at auction in February and May of 2011.
Released on July 8, the report includes statistics on mink pelt production, females bred by color class, the number of mink farms, and the average price and total market value of pelts.
According to NASS, mink production in the US totaled 2.82 million pelts in 2010, down 2% from 2.86 million pelts the year before, and at the same level as 2008. The largest crop this century was the 2.87 million pelts harvested in 2006. Between 2001 and 2010, annual output averaged 2.71 million. The 3 million mark was last achieved back in 1991.
Auction prices, meanwhile, have rebounded with gusto from the depressed prices that met the 2008 crop. As buyers took heed of the global economic turmoil, and those representing Russian clients hardly showed up at all, sale at auction yielded just $117.3 million.
Two years on, and hungry buyers were back in force. When the 2010 crop came under the hammer this spring, it earned a new record of $231.1 million, up 24% from the previous record set a year earlier, of $186.6 million.
The average price per US pelt also rose, surging to a new record high of $81.90, up from $65.10 a year earlier, and shattering the previous record of $65.70 set in 2007. Meanwhile, the average price over the five-year period 2006-10 came to $60.53, up 42.4% from the $42.51 average over the preceding five years.
Pelts Per Breeding Unchanged
Females bred to produce kits in 2010 totaled 670,200, for an average of 4.21 kits per breeding surviving to pelting time. This was almost unchanged from the 4.23 achieved the previous year. A recent high of 4.37 was set in 2006.
Meanwhile, NASS reports that the number of females bred to produce kits in 2011 is up 5% from the previous year, at 701,000. If the same number of pelts per breeding is achieved this year as last (4.21), this will result in a total of 2.95 million pelts going to auction in 2012.
Farm Numbers Slip, Productivity Still Rising
Starting in the late 1980s, the number of mink farms in the US began falling sharply, but those that remained became increasingly efficient through economies of scale such as merging with other farms, and pooling resources in feed and processing cooperatives. Advances in animal husbandry, meanwhile, resulted in higher survival rates among kits, and pelts that were both better quality and larger.
NASS data do not reflect farm mergers or changes in pelt size, but are still good indicators of the contraction and consolidation phase of the industry, and improvements in productivity.
Between 1990 and 2005, the total number of farms reporting to NASS fell from 771 to just 275. Since then, their numbers have fluctuated in a narrow range. In 2010, 265 farms reported to NASS, down from 278 the year before.
The trend in productivity over the same period has been quite the reverse, as opportunities for greater efficiency have become more fully exploited. In 1990, the average farm produced just 4,366 pelts. By 2000, that number had risen to 7,617. And in 2010, it stood at 10,650, up 338 pelts from the year before.
Over the most recent five-year period, 2006-2010, the number of farms fell by 5.02%, while average pelt production per farm rose 3.93%.
Wisconsin, Utah Continue Domination
Wisconsin remained the country’s leading pelt producer in 2010, having held the top spot since before the turn of the century. However, it saw output fall for the third year in a row. In 2010, it produced 883,430, down from 886,100 a year earlier. A leveling off has therefore occurred following a period of expansion that began in 2001 (672,000) and peaked in 2007 (914,100).
Meanwhile the margin between Wisconsin and its closest rival has narrowed. Utah boosted output in 2010 by 11.0% to 677,900 pelts, for its largest crop this century. The previous largest was 622,890, achieved in 2006.
These two states continued their long-standing domination of US mink production, accounting for 55.3% of total output, up 0.8% from the year before. The next four largest producers, Oregon, Minnesota, Idaho, and Iowa, accounted for a combined 29.5%.
Black Mink Popularity Steadies
Relative outputs of individual color phases by and large followed the same pattern as in previous years, while previous growth in the dominance of black (formerly known as standard) has leveled off.
In 1998, black accounted for 40.5% of output, following which its relative importance declined to as low as 37% in 2002. It then began to rise steadily, to 53.7% in 2008, then to slip back again. In 2010, black accounted for 51.1% of the crop.
Other major colors produced in 2010 were mahogany at 25.7% of the total, blue iris 9.3%, demi/wild 3.6%, sapphire 2.7%, and pearl, 2.6%.