Honeoye, N.Y — Trappers across North America – including New York – are expecting another boom season in 2013-14, with the potential for record prices and industry activity for the second year in a row.
Internationally, records fell in several key areas across the fur industry. North American Fur Auctions (NAFA), the world’s largest wild fur clearinghouse, experienced attendance records for their February and May 2013 auctions, with more than 700 buyers at each sale. Those new sales avenues contributed to increased competition and sparked NAFA to forecast even higher attendance during its auctions for 2013-14.
“The increase last season resulted in our auction room being filled to capacity, with additional seating having to be placed along the outer aisles. We are currently in the process of enlarging our auction room by a further 50 percent to accommodate additional buyers that we expect from around the world. As unbelievable as it may seem, we could very well have attendances that are between 700 and 1,000 buyers,” said NAFA managing director Herman Jansen.
One trend at the international level is buyers seeking large quantity purchases of fur lots. Buyers from China prefer to purchase high volumes of pelts, such as raccoon, muskrats, and coyotes, to sufficiently supply and operate a full line in their manufacturing facilities.
”When you look at our markets, we have to remember that China has a population of 1.3 billion people,” Jansen said. “It has an economy that continues to grow and continues to create a stronger upper middle class that is very interested in buying luxury goods.”
The trim trade, which focuses on garment linings, also heavily pursued fur last season and the push is expected to continue into 2013-14. Their support of wild fur drove prices upward for raccoon, muskrat, coyote, fisher, and sable – all trim trade staples. In addition to China, Russian and Greek buyers competed aggressively throughout last season, with buyers from Canada and other European countries stepping in late to further increase demand for the upcoming season’s fur offerings. Nearly one million raccoon pelts were sold at record pricing and muskrat pelts reached record territory at NAFA’s May auction.
NAFA’s official outlook for the upcoming year is positive on all fronts – fur prices, lot quantities and demand. “For the 2014 selling season we expect continuous strong demand for all of our wild fur. As long as we have a normal, cold winter in China, Russia, and to a lesser extent the rest of the world, then once again we could be setting records. NAFA’s turnover for this year will be in excess of $800 million (U.S), with the wild fur component selling over $90 million for the first time since the 1980s,” Jansen said.
Statewide, the trapping prospects look equally bright. Bob Hughes, who serves as auctioneer at the majority of fur auctions held around the state, including the largest at the Genesee Valley Trappers Association, noted that all signs point to a great season for New York trappers.
“From a participation standpoint, the trapper numbers are likely up,” he said. “Nearly all of the state’s trapper education courses have been filled up completely, and there’s people asking for more classes to be held.”
Likewise, attendance at this year’s annual New York State Trappers Association annual convention was up from last year, attracting around 7,000 visitors. “There were vendors from Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states,” Hughes said. “And, they’ve signed up again for next year.”
In-state, trappers should expect to receive prices equal to last year, with the likelihood of some species making modest increases for the average pelt, such as mink and muskrat. “Wild mink has been in high demand globally and it won’t be shocking to see mink average between $25 and $30 each,” Hughes said. “Muskrats, too, will be selling between $11 and $13 to start this year, and there’s potential for trappers to increase their average over last season.”
Hughes said the market appears steady at the moment.
“The only thing that may move a bit more than some trappers think would be select grades of raccoon pelts because the Chinese buyers are really starting to go after the high-grade pelts with top dollar,” he said. “In any case, I think trappers across New York are expecting solid prices across the board and a good season ahead.”