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Overview of the supply side of bovine hides and skins in Europe in 2018

Published: 09 Jan, 2019

Endowed with ample diversity and the high quality enjoyed by a sizeable share of its output, Europe distinguishes itself from other origins for a number of factors, deserving a supply-side analysis in its own right. For one thing, among major producers, it is exposed to the demand from Asia only for a minority of its hides, unlike the US, Brazil and Australia, among others. For another, thanks to the high grade of its skins and the presence of arguably the top leather production in the world in Italy, demand from the high-end and luxury manufactures condition hide and skins prices like in no other place.

While the data for 2018 is still uncomplete, most producing countries have now updated their slaughter data for the year until the month of October (with the notable absence of Italy). Three of main origins, France, the UK and Ireland, until the end of November. Though not final, the available info should already provide a fairly good overview of the past year trends in hides and skins availability. These results are expected to change little once the missing data is available and already provide a good basis in any supply-demand-price analysis of the sector.

Adult bovine

A total of about 17.15 million head were slaughtered in the EU in the first 10 months of 2018, up 2.5% compared to the same period of 2017. This number is strikingly similar to that seen in the U.S., despite the two widely differing beef markets. But the similarity does not stop there. Like in the U.S., the increase was due to the higher kills of females, though in Europe heifers’ rise was much wider than cows.

Adult males

With 7.2 million head culled, males in the EU production mix accounted for 42% of the total, showing only a marginal increase (+0.3%) compared to 2017. With just over 1 million heads each, Germany and the UK were the top producers, both showing a decrease compared to the previous year (-3.7% in Germany and -1.6% over 11 months in the UK). Other key origins were France (975,000 head, -2.3% over 11 months), Poland (830,000 head, +3.3%), Ireland (848,000 head, +0.9% over 11 months) and Italy (est. 756,000 head, +0.4%). All in all, the drop among the three top producers was offset by a slight increase among second-tier origins, and the jump in runner-up Spain with a +12.5% growth year-on-year.


6.35 million cows were slaughtered in the first 10 months of 2018 in the EU, a 2.5% increase year-on-year, mimicking the total for adult bovines. France with 1.4 million over the period (+3.2%, which dropped to +2.6% in November) and Germany around 1 million. with an increase of 2.7% were the main drivers. The UK (622,000 heads and +5.8% in 11 months) and Italy (est. 466,000 heads, +7.6%) scored solid gains in the year. Among the main producers, the 6.2% drop in the Netherlands and 1% in Spain were the only ones moving in countertrend.


3.6 million heifers were slaughtered in the first 10 months of 2018 in the EU, witnessing a 6.9% increase compared to the previous year. The UK, with 634,000 heads stands out as the highest supplier, with a 4.6% increase in the Jan-Oct period and a similar 4.8% increase year-on-year in Jan-Nov. The other 4 large producers are packed in the 450k-500k head range and saw various intensity of increase. Specifically: Italy, 495,000 head (+16%), France, 491,000 head (+4%, +3.5% over 11 months), Ireland 466,000 head (+2.7, +2.9% over 11 months), Germany 452,000 head (+2.7%). To subscribe to theSauerReport click here.

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