2008 Will be a Year of Adjustment
World output has been increasing steadily since 1999, with most producers responding to ever-stronger prices at auction, fueled by growing demand for mink pelts, particularly in China and Russia.
But according to the latest statistics released annually by Oslo Fur Auctions, 2008 will be a year of adjustment, with the world-wide harvest totaling 51.12 million pelts. This marks a 13.2% drop from the revised output of 57.89 million in 2007, but is still 2.7% higher than the figure of 49.77 million in 2006.
The most dramatic adjustment has been in China. Just a decade ago, in 1999, it is estimated to have produced 3 million pelts. Although this made it the world’s second-largest producer, it was far behind leader Denmark, with 10.5 million. China then embarked on a dramatic expansion, peaking in 2007 with an estimated output of 20 million pelts, or about one-third of world output. This year, Oslo Fur Auctions estimates production will number 13 million pelts.
As always, estimating Chinese output has been something of a guessing game, since its generally inferior pelts do not pass through the international auction system. However, industry insiders have indicated that the rapid expansion brought on board many inexperienced farmers whose end product sold for disappointing prices, causing them to cut back production and in some cases close down.
With the decline of China, Denmark once again resumes its customary position at the top of the pile. Production this year is forecast at 14 million, unchanged from 2007.
Forecasts for other major producers are as follows: the Netherlands: 4.5 million, up 4%; Poland: 3.2 million, up 14%; the USA: 3 million, unchanged; Canada: 2.3 million, unchanged; Russia: 2 million, down 9%; Finland: 1.9 million, down 10%; the Baltic States: 2 million, up 25%; Sweden: 1.45 million, down 3%; Belarus: 800,000, down 20%; and Norway: 660,000, down 3%.
Three producers stand out amidst the general trend of status quo or downward adjustment. The Netherlands has continued its steady expansion dating back to 1999, since when output has grown 66%, establishing it firmly as the world’s third-largest producer. More dramatic has been the rise of Poland, which has seen a 700% increase over the same period and now ranks fourth in the world. And the Baltic States, now tied in seventh place with Russia, have seen growth of 376% over the last decade.