Over the years, India has transformed from being a mere exporter of raw materials to a supplier of value-added products. For buyers looking for volume and quality leather goods, India offers a range of handcrafted garments, footwear and fashion accessories.
Among the factors that have contributed to India becoming a prominent supplier of value-added leather goods are its large raw material base and skilled workers. The government has also implemented initiatives to encourage the development of supporting industries.
“India is a prominent leather goods supplier to the global market. Last decade was instrumental in the exponential growth of the Indian leather industry,” said Rafeeque Ahmed, president of All India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association.
The country ranks as the world’s second largest producer of leather shoes and other types of footwear after China, with an annual output of 2.06 billion pairs. It is also the second largest producer of leather garments, capable of manufacturing 16 million pieces each year.
Exports account for approximately 50 percent of the leather industry’s sales. Between April and June 2017, India sent abroad $1.4 billion worth of leather and leather products. During the financial year ending March 2017, exports amounted to $5.7 billion.
The top destinations were the US, Germany, the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Hong Kong, the UAE, mainland China, the Netherlands, Belgium and Poland. These 12 markets together account for more than 70 percent of India’s exports of leather and leather products.
Looking ahead, the industry faces a number of challenges. For one, the cattle slaughter ban in several states continues to hamper the availability of hides, keeping leather costs on an upward trend. Limited design innovation is also an issue, with most makers relying on buyer specifications.
Still, projections remain optimistic. India foresees exports of leather and leather products to reach $9 billion by 2020, up from $5.7 billion in the financial year 2016-2017.