Today’s leather industry has to handle a globalised market in which the supply chain is complex and unclear at times. Hides and skins are traded worldwide, and along the way leather can be graded and mixed with several batches from different sources. To make things more complicated, different physical-chemical processes are used, making monitoring a real challenge.
Consumers are getting more and more interested in the origins of the products they buy and they want to be aware of the conditions those goods are manufactured under. Customers are spurring retailers to banish counterfeit products and, at the same time, they are urging brands to prove that their leather products meet every rule that applies to their kind (e.g. CITES rules about exotic leather).
Furthermore, over recent years the leather industry has been severely attacked by human rights and environmental Non-Governmental Organisations as well as animal welfare campaign groups. The whole sector has been scrutinised in search of violations in working conditions or environmental protection, and the industry suffered the association with poor animal welfare practices.
In order to comfort and reassure consumers, the industry has to reach the greatest transparency in its supply chain. To accomplish this, leather makers, brands, and retailers are now relying on traceability. Traceability is the perfect solution to mantain brand reputation avoiding suppliers which work under poor (or no) environmental controls and have issues with animal welfare and forced/child labour.
Moreover, traceability comes in handy also to give the customers all the data they could be interested in, such as which chemicals have been used and where the used materials originated from.
Demonstrating best practices and a clean supply chain to customers is an opportunity that every company in the industry should seize, but it can be challenging and complicated. Even though traceability can look like a major challenge, we have to recognize the progress which has been achieved in recent years and use it as a driving force to make the market more and more transparent.
If you want to know more about transparency and traceability we heartily recommend you the ILM Traceability Webinar, in which we had the pleasure of being featured. You can watch it here.