The North American Fur Auctions sale held last month saw reduced prices for most furbearer species.
Herman Jansen, NAFA’s managing director, has more in his report from the auction:
WARM WINTER IN RUSSIA AND CHINA
AFFECTS FUR MARKET
It is no secret across the industry that a warm winter in Russia, China and Europe has exacted a significant toll on the fur market. It started with commercial brown mink, which dropped 50% to 60% from last year’s record prices, and was equally evident in the sale of some of our major wild fur species during our February sale.
With a registered audience of over 400 buyers in attendance, we opened the February sale with coyotes, which sold 100% under very strong competition from Italy, Canada, Russia and China. As a result, we were quite hopeful that most of our trimming articles could be sold at similar high clearance levels. On the opening day, red fox, grey fox and wild mink also all sold 100%, but at reduced price levels. However, muskrats actually exceeded last year’s record prices and sold 100%, with Korea taking a dominant position. Muskrats have become a fashion article in Korea. Muskrat bellies are being used as winter coat linings. Fishers also did very well with many new markets participating.
The sable/marten sale was, perhaps, the most disappointing article within the February auction. Clearances of 30% reflected mostly Koreans buying better goods. To many of our buyers, our price levels were out of line with the Russian sables which had sold earlier in the month. However, a good fair in Hong Kong and Milan should help bring buoyancy back to the market for this beautiful article, despite the fact that the production of sable appears to be on the low side of its normal 7 year cycle. Therefore, we do expect that in our next sale, now being held in May, that we will be selling 100% of what will be now, a much larger sable/marten offering.
Heavy section raccoon, which are mostly used for trimming, sold over 90% with China and Russia dominating, but also received good support from European and North American fashion houses. The semi-heavy and flatter section raccoon, which are used mostly for garments, met price resistance due to the low commercial mink prices. Beaver was again a problematic article as the new low mink prices make the beaver less attractive to most of our buyers. Unfortunately, dressing, plucking and dyeing a beaver is somewhere around $35 in Hong Kong/China, compared to a plucked, sheared and dyed mink at $5 to $7. While beaver is a beautiful article, especially sheared, and has found new support from Italian fashion houses, there is not enough volume depth in the market and it would appear that this problem will stay with us for a while.
Otters sold 100% with China dominating. Lynx and lynx cats sold 100% with Greece dominating and support from other markets. The top end of the lynx cats did very well and all of the Greek purchases are actually for the Russian market.
The most important take-away from our February auction is the clear fact that fur is still very much in fashion. Yes, of course, we didn’t see a repeat of last year’s prices in many articles, but the warm winter in our key fur consuming markets will inevitably have that effect. Nevertheless, NAFA’s promotional work internationally brings new clients to our auction room. Korea, for example, is now into muskrats, fishers and sables. Without our promotion, they would not have been there, so again every penny that is spent is an investment today and in the future.
And here are the species-by-species results:
The next major fur auction will be the Fur Harvesters Auction sale on March 13 to 14.