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Russia Lost Positions in Fur Market
February 1, 2008 14:18

Furs export has always been the Russian domain in the overseas markets. At this, Russia is a monopolist in growing and selling sables in view of the natural habitat of these animals, who live only in the Russian climate. Moreover, Russian stockbreeders are able to raise sables in captivity and even managed to breed new black sables, which became the most valuable article at fur auctions. Several decades ago the Soviet Union was among the top three biggest fur exporting countries. It may sound funny, but Russia is on the contrary number one in fur import today – 80% of the Russian fur market is taken over by foreign companies.

In the late 1980s the Soviet fur industry approximately produced 15 million pelts annually, today Russian stockbreeders are able to supply 7 times less. Only several manufacturers outstayed the chaos of the new-born wild market economy. Consequently, Russia has to buy 30% of the world marketed furs to satisfy the domestic demand.

 Russian fur manufacturers are stuck in time: the industry needs fresh investments, while the technological process should be brought up to date to make Russian furs competitive at world’s auctions.

The volume of furs import is enormous and feels shameful for the country which used to be famous for excellent furs. Today Russia can be found at the bottom of the list naming fur-manufacturing countries. Russian fur auctions including the St Petersburg International fur auction don’t attract foreign businessmen. The current leaders are North American Fur Auctions, Danish Kopenhagen Fur, U.S. Seattle Fur Exchange and Finnish Fur Sales (fox-fur).

However, Russian furs are still marketable due to peculiarities of the internal consumption and existent monopoly on sables. Russian warm minks can’t find a market abroad, though they are basically popular among Russian consumers living in severe climate.

 As for Russian sables, they are now bred in captivity and are still prohibited from export. The state monopoly on valuable sable furs was introduced in the times of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, no one can say for sure that sables have never been illegally taken abroad. According to the head of the Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resource Usage, the smugglers supported by corrupt officials sometimes traffic in live animals from the aerodromes of the Defense Ministry.

Failing to revive the domestic fur industry, Russia loses its share at the world fur market. Despite the widely-advertised wildlife protection programs, furs remain extremely popular in designing clothes, even summer collections. This segment of Russian business is waiting for people ready to take it to the top.


Olga Pletneva

Tags: Russian business Russian trade    

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