The leather industry in South Africa has advanced significantly since the early to mid-20th century, when it mostly supplied leather footwear for the world wars. Since this industry was introduced to South Africa by British and Dutch colonies, it has evolved into a variety of subsectors throughout the local leather and footwear value chain.
The South African Leather Industry
The domestic market, the export market, the subsectors of footwear, leather goods, handbags and luggage, crocodile leather, ostrich leather, and taxidermy are all included in the South African leather industry. The country's leather sector is currently experiencing a number of difficulties due to unfavourable market conditions on a local and international level.
To tackle the mounting challenges brought on by cheap and unauthorised imports of leather products, the Clothing and Textiles Competitiveness Programme (CTCP) was implemented in the footwear, leather, clothing, and textile industries in 2009. Since then, the CTCP's assistance has enabled the South African leather sector to expand by 13,39% between 2010 and 2013. Between 2010 and 2016, the export of leather and footwear increased by 167%, from R1,98 billion to R5,29 billion.
South African-sourced hides and skins
When it comes to cattle, the amount of recovered hide is influenced by how much meat feedlots produce. Since there aren't many goats, sheepskins are mostly made with the export market in mind.
Shoes, clothing, and handbags are all made out of ostrich leather. Exotic leather, which is acquired in smaller quantities from wild creatures like elephants, crocodiles, buffalo, and snakes, typically commands a higher selling price.
Cattle is South Africa's top provider of leather, with feedlots favouring breeds including Angus, Sussex, Hereford, and Bonsmara, according to an Industrial Development Corporation analysis on prospective product development for commercialization and value-adding to beef goods.
Local value chain for leather
Only a small number of skins and hides are exported right away; the majority are sent for additional processing. Wet blue skins that have undergone some processing can also be exported. However, the majority of high-quality skins go to automotive tanners whereas low-quality wet blues are frequently sold to footwear or general goods tanners.
When it comes to South Africa's export-oriented automobile industry, luxury car makers from Japan and Germany receive the most of the attention. Conversely, low-cost imports from China are continuously invading the areas of footwear and general merchandise.
A little insight into the leather trade industry in South Africa by Moolman Martin