Reality check – Swakara remains fashion

The Swakara information session in Keetmanshoop drew a large crows of established karakul farmers as well as a number of farmers keen to improve their karakul breeding and pelt production.

Karakul farmers have become used to improving prices for their Swakara pelts, and finding a ready market for every pelt they produce. However, at the latest fur auction in Copenhagen, prices were subdued while all the skins were not sold. This prompted ProVision, the Agra division that acts as agents and marketers for Swakara, to hold an information session with the karakul farmers of the South.

From the left are Wessel Visser, Malcolm and Louisa Campbell, Dagmar Honsbein, Leon van Wyk and Raimar von Hase. These Agra Provision staff members and experts helped Karakul farmers understand the dynamics of the fur trade following the somewhat disappointing results of the latest Swakara offering at the Copenhagen fur auction. The Campbells received the award as the top karakul breeders and Swakara producers.

The April 2015 Swakara pelt auction results, international fur market realities, the latest fur market trends and global acceptance of Swakara as a fashion item, were the items on the agenda at Agra ProVision’s information sharing evening hosted in Keetmanshoop recently. The event was well attended by both upcoming and established Swakara producers.
Raimar von Hase, Chairperson of the Karakul Board of Namibia shared feedback from the International Fur Federation (IFF) meeting held earlier this year on the developments in the fur industry. “In light of the fashion developments, fur is now more prominent with designers on catwalks than ever before. And social media is increasingly being utilised to promote fur and draw attention to new lifestyles,” he said.
But despite all these efforts, the fur industry is held back by circumstances beyong the control of Namibian producers. “Mink fur, which has a pricing structure linked to Swakara has a production of approximately 82 million a year, whereas Swakara only markets about 120,000 pelts in a year. And the economic crisis in Russia with their currency dropping with more than 50% negatively influenced the outlook of the auction. The Russians have less buying power, although 80% of the fur garments are normally sold in Russia” he said.
Dagmar Honsbein, General Manager of Agra ProVision shared von Hase’s sentiments saying despite Swakara being a popular fur, the global fur market is currently under pressure. She assured the producers of Swakara’s future stating “Swakara remains a luxury fashion product. As a high-end niche product, there is a need for market and product diversification. This will enable us to pursue new market segments for high-middle income earners.”
“In order to seek new markets, there is a need for production of more Swakara pelts to satisfy the market demand” she said
At the same event, Agra awarded top Namibian producers, Malcolm and Louisa Campbell of Lovedale Farming from Helmeringhausen who sold 308 pelts at an average of N$752.86 per pelt.
Agra facilitated the sale of 93% of the Swakara offering sold at the April pelt auction in Denmark. Of the total offer of 60,910 Swakara pelts, 56,693 were sold at this auction on 18 April 2015. The sales consisted of 42,350 black, 10,406 white, 2648 spotted and 1289 diverse pelts.