I’ve had this conversation with a lot of customers lately, so I hope that the following information will help to clarify some of the issues facing the possum fur industry at present.
Where to start? As any New Zealander will tell you, possum are an invasive introduced species that has bred out of control and is the single largest cause of destruction to our native bush, bird and insect life.
They say there are about seventy to eighty million possums in New Zealand but the truth is that know body really knows how many there are. What I can tell you is that even though possums seem to be everywhere, even in our own back yard, the trappers need to go deep into rugged terrain, into the remote forest regions, often by helicopter to get to where the best possums really are.
So if there are so many possums why are the skins so expensive? Well there are quite a few reasons actually. Let’s tackle them one at a time.
Think about the logistics of dropping men into the bush by helicopter for a week at a time, with all their camping gear, food and equipment. It takes a tough bloke to do a job like that. The prime furs can only be collected at certain times of the year; you need to avoid the moulting season and also the mating season. The weather in New Zealand is as unpredictable and can make these flights dangerous and unpredictable.
The single biggest change to the industry in the last five years or so is the growing market for the plucked possum fur fibre (fluff). This year (2011) the price for plucked fur fluff per kilo reached an all time high. The possum fluff is mixed with merino wool to make beautiful possum merino knitwear clothing and accessories.
I have heard that China is buying as much fur fluff as they can lay their hands on by the container load. This is creating a high demand for this unique New Zealand only product. For many years we resisted selling to China, but it only took one person to give in and say yes and start to sell to the much larger market and then the rest of the tanneries/trappers had to follow or go broke.
I think it is sad that New Zealand is selling the fluff off-shore at all; possum products and possum merino wool products where the one truly unique product that no other country could make. The cost of New Zealand manufactured knitwear is increasing because of the increased cost of the possum fur fluff, and soon we will see China trying to sell it back to us as finished goods.
So now back to our original question about the cost of the possum fur blankets and throws. What all that means is that the tanneries have to pay the trappers an even higher per skin price to make them bring the prime winter fur skins out of the bush at all. Otherwise all the trappers only collect the fur fluff because it is easier to deal with; lighter and they can get a great price per kilo. We have experienced two major price increases this year due to these factors.
To make matters worse the whole process of tanning leather with fur on is messy, time consuming and labour intensive taking a minimum of two weeks from start to finish and including a lot of manual hands-on work that can not be done well by a machine. As a side note, recently there was also a worldwide spike in the cost of the tanning chemicals. I’m not sure why but I know that this has also affected my international leather tannery suppliers for the cowhide rugs and other leather items results in price increases overall.
So at the end of the day the cost of possum fur throws and blankets will continue to increase as the worldwide market demand for the fur fluff increases. So if like some of my recent customers you have been thinking about buying yourself a gorgeous possum fur sofa throw or bed blanket and have been putting it off, do not hesitate, order it today because who knows what the price will look like tomorrow!
by Kirsty Mason from Gorgeous Creatures. This article is copyrighted ©2011 and can not be reproduced in any way without permission of the author. Especially by the writers from http://www.ehow.com who have copied other articles of mine and called it their own.
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