The leather is one of the things we have been using from centuries, from the Stone Age till now. An individual own at least own something made of hide either it is a wallet, a belt or a bag on average. The leather is one of the things that is just a by-product but values the most. People rear cattle for meat and dairy products, but the hide that is acquired of an animal make a 5-10 percent of the market value of those cattle itself.
The leather is so good, it looks good, it smells classy, its endurance is remarkable and the biggest advantage- it can be recycled. If we had not known leather, we would have made synthetic replacements which would not have been recyclable, so we owe a lot to the skin. The leather is used in so many products that it seems impossible now to survive without hide. The skin is used in shoes, bags, belts, oil seals in aircraft and many more industries.
The process of making leather has not changed so much over centuries. The process can be broken down in three significant steps. These are as below.
The further steps are curing and soaking of the leather which is preservation of the skin. It includes salting, freezing and chemically preserving the skins. Next comes liming and fleshing that is removing unwanted hair by soaking the skin into an alkali. After that de-liming, bating and pickling is done which causes the skin to flatten.
Tanning the Leather
The leather is tanned using either oil, vegetable oil or a mineral. The skin is tanned in huge drums which also contains an acidic environment. Splitting and shaving are performed to get the desired thickness of the hide. Neutralization and dyeing follow next which removes residues. Coloring can be done at this stage. The last step in the process is fat liquoring and drying. This step makes the hide soft and flexible.
Staking and dry drumming the hide is again a technique to soften the hide. Leather undergoes extreme tumbling. After that skin is buffed and brushed to make it softer and adjusting the thickness. Finishing is the final step which ensures glossiness and color of the leather, removal of extra thickness and dusting.
The leather is ready, a fascinating process, isn’t it?
But where does all this leather come from- the skin used to make all these fantastic products from the skin of animals. We have come up with the list of top eight countries which produce the largest amounts of hide in the world. This ranking is based on the reports published by World Statistical Compendium for raw hides and skins, hide and hide footwear 1993-2012. This ranking is based on the amounts of heavy and light leather from bovine animals, and light hide from sheep and goats produced together in the respective countries. This report is also the most accurate and complete report published by any reputable and trustable organization so far. We can trust this I guess.
Let’s look at the list of countries that produces the most leather in the world.
The USA produces 669.1 million square feet and has managed to stand on position eight on the list of top skin producing countries. USA’s priority seems to be the production of light leather from bovine animals, and 586.2 million square feet of US hide comes from this type. The USA produces 61.7 million square feet of light skin from sheep and goats, and 21.3 million went on heavy leather from bovine animals.
Argentina is the seventh largest hide producer in the world. It produces 715.1 million square feet of hide annually. Argentina, like the US, focuses on the production of light skin form bovine animals. This country produces 651.4 million square feet light hide from bovine animals and 35.1 million square feet of light hide from sheep and goats. Argentina’s heavy leather production from bovine animals is not popular as light skin and produces 28.6 million square feet.
6. South Korea
On rank 6 stands South Korea. South Korea produces about 1,083.1 million square feet annually. There are some big figure differences between the amounts of light and heavy leather they produce. South Korea produces 10.6 and 19.9 million square feet of heavy bovine and light sheep and goats’ hide respectively. Bovine animals produce 1,052.5 million square feet skin.
India constantly growing and blooming is just ready to replace Russia in the list. Indian leather industry is producing 1.4 billion square feet of hide. Bovine heavy skin makes the biggest number of this amount making 52.4 million square feet. Unlike other top four countries on this list, India’s skin production figures show an almost equal production of heavy skin produced from bovine animals and light hide produced from goats and sheep which is about 674,25 million and 670.85 million square feet respectively. India produced more light leather than Brazil; actually, India is the second country after China to produce the largest amounts of sheep and goat hide.
Mighty Russia is the fourth largest producer of hide. It once used to be the largest skin producers, but the skin industry in Russia started declining after the 1990s. Russia produces 1.4 billion square feet of skin annually. The major contributor being light skin from bovine animals is produced in several 1,304 million square feet. Eight percent of the leather comes from sheep and goat which is about 118 million square feet. Less than 3 percent of the total leather produced is heavy hide making a contribution of 38.3 million square feet per year.
The undisputed European leader of leather production, Italy, ranks third on the list of top leather producers in the world. Italy produces more than 1.5 billion square feet of hide annually. The biggest contributor to this amount is light skin produced from bovine animals. Bovine animals produce about 1,119.3 million square feet of hide annually. Twenty-five percent of the total skin comes from sheep and goats which is approximately 401.5 million square feet. Three percent of the total skin is heavy skin which is about 52.8 million square feet.
Brazil is the second largest producer of the skin followed by Italy. Hide industry in Brazil produces 1,832.7 million square feet of leather. Brazilian hide industry is majorly light skin produced from bovine animals. Leather produced from bovine animals is about 1,721.5 million square feet making it the biggest contributor to the Brazilian skin industry. Sheep and goats make the 4 percent of the skin industry which is approximately 67.1 million square feet. Two percent of the total hide is heavy leather. These small amounts add up to make Brazil the second largest hide producer.
Top Leather Producing Countries
Down below is the list of top countries that are producing most leather in the world
|Sr. No.||Country||Production in millions Sq. Ft.|
China rules the world, everything is made in China, and China has even replicated cities like Paris in China. No wonder the biggest hide producer in the world is China. China produces heavy skin used for belts, straps and soles, light leather used in shoes, bags, and jackets. The skin production in China is more about 4 million square feet of hide. This number is so large that the country on rank two doesn’t produce even half this amount. Most of this constitutes the light bovine skin which is about 2,364.7 million square feet per year. The light leather of sheep and goats also produces 1,347.3 million square feet per year. China is the biggest producer of bovine skin; it produces hide of this kind more than any other country. China produces about 201.2 million square feet of bovine skin per year.