Newsletter 07/2022 from Contance, The European Leather Association
Dying for leather?
This kind of rhetoric is often heard when people talk about desirable bags, shoes, saddles, jackets, sofas... They must own them, they "can’t live without them", but of course nobody would actually die for them.
Now, whether people “live or die” for leather or not, certain activist groups claim that "every year a billion animals are killed for leather". Can this be true? The answer is clearly, NO!
But where does that statement come from? Who knows… But the intention behind it is clear; to undermine the good reputation of leather in the belief that it will hurt the meat industry.
However, let's look at the facts. The vast majority of leathers comes from hides and skins of cattle, sheep, goats and pigs (as people can find out by searching on the Internet). These farm animals are kept because they provide milk and meat for human consumption, and they often graze on land that is not suitable for crops (e.g. steppe, grassland). However, these animals are killed for meat for human nutrition, not for the production of leather. The hide or the skin is just a by-product and thank to their processing into leather, they do not become waste.
Since cattle are larger than sheep and goats, most leather comes from cattle. According to the WWF, there are 1.6 billion cattle on the planet, and according to the FAO 293 million were slaughtered in 2020.
Still not sure? Cattle weighs anything between 200 to over a 1000 kg. The hide is only 7% of the weight and 1% of the value. What do think happens to the rest of the animal. Does anyone believe that 100s of kg of meat, bones, and offal are thrown away while only the hide is kept for leather? Imagine the waste mountain.
If we want to make the world a better place, we need reliable information. That is information on which we can build an opinion. One thing is irrefutable; Hides & skins are by-products of milk and meat production and it is better to use them as leather than to turn them into waste.