Danish mink cull trashes EU fur market

Big fashion brands switch to chinchilla and foxes

Magnus Ljung

Fashion centres found themselves under siege as prices of fur rocketed driven by Covid-19 related fears. Potential transmission of the virus between humans and minks forced the Danish government to launch a large-scale execution of animals and forced brands like Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi to switch to fox and chinchilla, Reuters reported.

The global fur trade, worth more than $22bn a year, is reeling from Denmark’s decision to kill 17 million farmed mink after Covid19 outbreaks at hundreds of farms led to the discovery of a new strain of coronavirus in the mammals.

Worries of a sudden shortage of slinky mink pelts, of which Denmark was the top exporter, have lifted prices by as much as 30% in Asia, the International Fur Federation (IFF) says.

Now, all eyes are on Finland, where one million mink and 250,000 fox pelts will soon be up for grabs for buyers in Korea, China, the United States and elsewhere next week. Auction house Saga Furs plans to hold the international sale, the first since the Danish cull, via livestream.

A sales programme offers mink fur from both Europe and North America, such as “Pearl Velvet” and “Silverblue Velvet” mink, in addition to “Silver Fox”, “White Finnraccoon” and Russian sable. Saga Furs, which last year took over its North American rival NAFA, expects to sell all the pelts, compared with a 55% take-up so far in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

“The market will strengthen, an increase in prices will help our business in general,” Saga Furs CEO Magnus Ljung said of the industry, which has seen years of falling prices. “We’ve already had more requests about foxes, if people see that there is a lack of mink, they could consider using something else,” Ljung told Reuters.

LVMH’s head of sustainability Helene Valade said this week that the French luxury group obtains fur from Finland. The owner of Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi, which relies on brokers to bid, says it is using only 100% certified mink, fox and finnraccoon. Fur demand has been falling since the 1950s, except for a rise between 2000 and 2013 when it was popular on fashion runways and Chinese appetite for luxury pelts boomed, Lise Skov, an academic who researched the Danish fur industry, said.

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