The international fur trade is a responsible and growing industry. More than one million people are employed full-time by the fur trade worldwide and many more on a part-time basis. Fur is more popular than ever. People are wearing fur in greater numbers and more designers are choosing to feature evermore fur in their collections.
Global fur sales have been steadily rising since the IFTF began to collate figures in 1998 – in 2011 total sales turnover was at just over $US 15,000,000,000.
The majority of fur is sold through major auction houses: Kopenhagen Fur in Denmark, SAGA Furs Oyj in Finland, North American Fur Auctions in Canada, American Legend Co-operative in the USA, Fur Harvesters Auction in Canada and Sojuzpushnina in Russia.
Nearly two thirds of all fur sold worldwide is Origin Assured (OA™). Origin Assured is the labelling initiative developed voluntarily by the fur trade to assure consumers that their fur has come from a country where welfare regulations or industry standards are in force.
Approximately 85% of all fur sold comes from specialty fur farms, and approximately 15-20% comes from abundant wild fur animal populations. In 2010, over 50 million fur pelts were produced by fur farms, mostly from Europe:
- 60% Europe
- 25% China
- 10% North America
- 5% Russia
By far the biggest exporter of fur is Europe. The biggest importer of fur is China. Demand for fur has remained stable in the traditional markets throughout the international economic downturn, and demand is growing not only in China but also in Korea, Ukraine and South America.
Many different communities depend either in part or almost entirely on the fur trade. In the Greek regions of Kastoria and Siatista, close to 80% of the population is employed by the fur trade. In the north of USA, Canada, Russia, Finland, Sweden and Norway first nation peoples hunt and trap wild fur animals from sustainable populations to this day and trading furs gives a vital boost to these marginal economies. Karakul sheep have been found to do very well in the desert regions of Namibia where few other animals or plants can thrive. These herds of Karakul provide very useful employment and income to local farmers living on the economic margins in Namibia.