Doing it tough: Australian farmers say they are struggling due to an oversupply of crocodile skins used in Europe by high-end fashion labels
- A spike in saltwater crocodile farms is having an adverse impact on the market
- Oversupply of crocodile skins from places like Africa are flooding the market
- As a result Australian farmers aren’t seeing the returns they are used to seeing
An oversupply of saltwater crocodile skins is putting the squeeze on Australian farmers.
Veteran Queensland crocodile farmer John Lever said competition from countries like Africa was having an adverse impact on the market.
He told ABC News crocodile farmers ‘weren’t getting the returns’ they normally would and is downsizing his farm.
An oversupply of saltwater crocodile skins is putting the squeeze on Australian farmers (crocodile farm pictured)
Crocodile skins are used by high-end fashion houses such as Hermes for handbags
‘It’s hard yards for crocodile farmers right now, we’re just not getting the returns,’ he told ABC Rural.
‘I’ve been working in the industry since 1972 and I never, ever thought it would come to this day where we would have over-production in the world market.
‘Countries in Africa, there’s been some huge investments and there are farms now with 100,000 crocodiles.’
The market value of pristine saltwater crocodile skin varies but is usually around AUS$13 per centimeter, making a pristine 40cm skin worth around $360.
High end labels like Gucci and Versace seek out Australian saltwater crocodile skin but the oversupply of general skins is causing a drop in market value.
Crocodylus Park’s professor Grahame Webb said the oversupply had already started to impact negatively on the Australian market.
‘People sometimes start investing in industries as if there’s limitless growth, so there’s got to be a correction when you get over-production,’ he said.
Crocodylus Park’s professor Grahame Webb said the oversupply had already started to impact on the market with supply outstripping demand (crocodile farm pictured)
‘Some people will survive through this and have good markets, some will adapt and work their way through, others won’t be able to do that.’
A report from Ernst & Young found in the 2014/15 financial year the saltwater crocodile skin industry in Australia was worth $54.3 million, 0.23 per cent of the Northern Territory GSP.
Saltwater crocodile skin leather is big business with one handbag from Hermes Birkin was sold for US$300,000 at auction in 2018.
Another blow to the Australian saltwater crocodile farmer was the fact many fashion labels were now looking to buy or start their own Australian crocodile farms.
Almost 80 per cent of the ownership of the 14 crocodile farms in the Northern Territory, Queensland and Western Australia already belongs to foreign fashion houses.
‘Everybody aims for that top grade because the premium is enormous but it’s becoming tougher and tougher to meet the blemish-free standards,’ Mr Lever told Farm Online.
A report from Ernst & Young found in the 2014/15 financial year the saltwater crocodile skin industry in Australia was worth $54.3 million, 0.23 per cent of the Northern Territory GSP (woman with crocodile skin handbag pictured)