15 Apr 2013

Mink fur sales to China soaring

8:01 am on 15 April 2013

Mink farmers in the United States are scrambling to keep up with demand from China for furs.

US exports of mink pelts to China rose to a record $US215.5 million last year - more than double both the value and volume shipped in 2009.

Customers in Chinas are clamoring for fuzzy-trimmed backpacks, ermine-edged coats and mink-covered office supplies.

After two recessions and mounting criticism of the fur trade by animal rights groups, prices of farmed mink pelts are now at all-time highs.

South Korea and Russia also contributed to a surge in demand that led to shipments of 11.8 million pelts worth $US479 million worldwide last year. That was nearly triple the level in 2009.

Buyers and manufacturers from China are flocking to fur auction houses in Seattle and Canada.

Demand drove black male mink pelts to an average price of more than $US141 each at a recent sale held at North American Fur Auctions in Toronto.

Two years ago, similar quality pelts were selling for $US98.

"We had over 700 registered buyers and the majority were from China," said NAFA communications director Nancy Daigneault. "It was jammed. We've never had that many buyers before, ever."

Retail sales of fur-related goods - ranging from full-length mink coats to ermine-covered toilet paper holders - are forecast to hit $6 billion in 2012, according to data from the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce.