The picture emerged with extreme precision during the opening press conference. This was stated by the fair director himself: since the launch of ACLE Beijing in 1998, 2019 has been one of the most difficult years for the leather industry. There are numerous critical factors: the ongoing trade war between the United States and China that has undermined business trust, the growing demand for red meat has contributed to an excess supply of raw hides around the world, exerting downward pressure on already falling prices due to low demand. Furthermore, synthetic materials continue to win the favour of designers for the creation of footwear and bags. “Even the automotive and furniture sectors, which in the last four years had to compensate for the fall in demand of leather uppers, became less certain, as can be seen from the global sales of cars and the weak results of seat suppliers and car interiors such as Lear and Adient”, said Michael Duck, director of APLF Limited.
A complex situation also for the China Leather Industry Association (CLIA)’s secretary Chen Zhan Gang, who said that “the leather industry in China is relatively stable, but the long-term situation is difficult to predict”.
The complex economic dynamics are also confirmed by the official figures for the sector relating to the first half of 2019. The turnover of Chinese tanneries has in fact fallen by 10.93% compared to the same period of the previous year; at the same time, imports of raw hides and skins fell by 32.7%, those of semi-finished leathers by 15% and finished leathers by 18.4%. The only comforting factor: the production of leather footwear, again in the first half, rose slightly to 1.88 billion pairs (+0.13%). Returning to the fair, the 22nd edition of the All China Leather Fair that took place in Shanghai from September 3 to 5 and brought together over one thousand exhibitors spread over eight pavilions, including 16 foreign collective groups. Even if the total numbers of exhibition presences are more or less constant, it is evident that foreign exhibitors are progressively decreasing, particularly in the tanning sector and in countries such as Turkey and Brazil, once protagonists of the event. The supply of chemical products, on the other hand, is still well represented in the sector by multinational corporations, which are strongly present in the local market. Italy was present at ACLE with 45 exhibitors, as always articulated between high-level tanning technology and chemical auxiliaries maintaining their positions with great commitment despite the difficulties of the market. Anyway the fair showed good results as regards attendance with a +9% visitors’ increase in the first day.
Among the side events of the fair, the “Shake-up Conference” which brought together experts in the field to discuss new challenges of the tanning industry and talks organised in the Leather Naturally area focused on the promotion of the leather image among designers and the launch of the international digital campaign have sparked great interest.