Our wild furs are posed to fill any skin shortages. We certainly see this already in the interest of muskrat. The early trading of raccoon in the country has been encouraging. While still awaiting reports of retail activity in Russia, country buyers seem to be somewhat less gun shy now than they were a month ago. In part, this is due to the late movement of carryover goods from the previous season.
All of this good news was coming our way, but then a dark and dangerous cloud began gathering over the Far East. The Winds of War started amassing over the Korean Peninsula. Understandably, this did not go unnoticed by fur traders.
The questions I’ve been hit with most often dealt with: “How will this effect the Chinese fur trade?” That is certainly a reasonable concern considering China is the largest buyer of raw fur. During the past 10 years, Chinese makers have dominated most ranch fur sales and our wild fur auctions.
From the standpoint of China’s involvement, I doubt the ugly events unfolding between North and South Korea will have any significant impact on our fur markets there. China is interested in foreign trade, accumulating wealth and employing more people to produce items for export. But wars and even rumors of war are always unsettling in the business world. This is especially true in a venture as speculative as the fur trade.
Korea is a different matter. Several fur makers there have moved into producing better, more expensive goods. They often take the “Top Lots” of ranched and wild furs. Fur retail and manufacturing facilities in Seoul, home of 10 million, are huge. The shoppers there are affluent, demand quality and are willing to pay for it. Seoul is only 50 short miles from the North Korean border and the DMZ.
Any time there is a disruption in the flow of raw furs from producers all the way to the end users, the markets react. The removal of one country fur buyer or even one retail stall vendor in Moscow is not in the best interest of the trade. Korea is a major player; both
from the standpoint of manufacturing to the retail trade. Unrest there will have ripple effect throughout the trade.