Mining has been declared an essential activity across South America, Canada, South Africa and most other regions owing to the economic reliance on the industry.
“There is a surge in orders for industrial leather gloves from global markets. Due to lockdown, foreign buyers could not import these gloves. Now they are buying in good volumes. The demand is up 20% compared to that last July,” said Ramesh Juneja, regional chairman of Council of Leather Exports.
The majority of industrial leather gloves are produced in Kolkata and the rest in Chennai, he said.
Industrial leather gloves are produced from the hides of cow and buffalo that are imported from Brazil. “There is no problem in getting raw materials. We can also use hides of Indian cows and buffaloes that die naturally,” said Juneja.
But even as exports of industrial leather gloves have picked up, exports of other leather products such as handbags and wallets have dropped as retail sales in the US, UK, Germany, France and Italy have not picked up and importers are asking Indian manufacturers to renegotiate contracts at 10-15% lower prices.
“Not all shops have yet opened in overseas markets. Those which are opened are not witnessing enough footfall as consumers are worried about the economic situation as well as health issues,” said Juneja. “So the buyers from these countries are asking us to renegotiate deals at lower prices. But this seems impossible as the cost of our production has gone up since we have to bear the overhead costs despite a drop in sales.”
The country’s leather industry is staring at an export loss of $1.5 billion due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the global markets, said Juneja.
India’s export of leather and leather products fell 10.89% in 2019-20 to $5.07 billion from $5.69 billion in the previous year. The share of footwear in India’s total leather and leather product exports was 51.77%, followed by 26.44% share of leather goods and accessories, 10.34% of finished leather, 8.46% of leather garments and 2.99% of saddlery and harness.