The Economic Significance of Leather in Brazil: Insights from CICB Data

Explore the vital role and economic benefits of Brazil's robust leather industry, its global impact, and sustainable practices.


The Economic Impacts of Brazil's Leather Industry

Brazil's leather industry is a cornerstone of its economy, with a rich history that spans several centuries. As a significant player in the global leather market, Brazil has harnessed its natural resources and skilled labor force to create a sector that not only contributes to the country's GDP but also impacts its socio-economic fabric profoundly. Here, we delve into the economic significance of the leather industry in Brazil, drawing from historical data and insights up to 2023.

A Pillar of National Economy

The Brazilian leather industry has been a dynamic force in the country's economic growth, delivering tangible achievements that resonate across the global market. As a major exporter, it has consistently contributed to Brazil's trade surplus, bringing in significant foreign exchange and reinforcing the stability of the national currency. The industry's success in value addition—transitioning from the export of raw hides to the production of high-quality finished products—has not only increased revenue but also elevated Brazil's standing as a producer of premium leather goods.

This leap up the value chain has been facilitated by substantial investments in technology and innovation, ensuring efficiency and quality that meet international standards. Moreover, the leather sector's commitment to sustainable practices has aligned with global demand for eco-friendly products, opening new avenues for trade and investment. In terms of employment, the industry has been pivotal, creating jobs and fostering skill development, which in turn supports families and stimulates local economies. Through these contributions, the Brazilian leather industry has cemented its role as a vital component of the nation's economic fabric, driving forward the narrative of Brazil's economic resilience and diversified industrial 

Export Revenue and Trade Balance

Brazil is among the top leather exporters in the world, with the industry substantially contributing to the country's trade balance. The export of leather adds billions of dollars to the economy every year. This foreign exchange is vital for Brazil's economic health, helping to stabilize the local currency and finance the import of goods and services that the country needs.

The country’s exports of hides and skins “showed growth in area and weight in 2023”, according to the Centre for the Brazilian Tanning Industry (CICB). Looking at the year as a whole, 158.9 million square metres, up by 13.0%, were sent abroad, the equivalent of 430.6 thousand tonnes, up by 21.5%, on a comparable basis to 2022. In value terms, however, these figures represent a decrease of 8.3% over the previous year to 1.1 billion US dollars.

The data also indicates that 81 countries purchased Brazilian leather in 2023, with China and Hong Kong at the forefront (31.5% share), followed by the US (16.0%) and Italy (12.1%). 

Employment and Livelihoods

The leather industry is a significant source of employment in Brazil. It provides direct jobs to tens of thousands of people in various segments, including raw material processing, manufacturing, and finishing of leather products. Furthermore, it supports countless indirect jobs in related sectors such as agriculture, where cattle raising is a key activity for the production of hides.

Regional Development

The industry's impact is not evenly distributed across Brazil; it is particularly significant in certain regions where leather processing and manufacturing are concentrated. This geographical concentration means that in some areas, the leather industry is a primary driver of economic activity, supporting local economies and fostering regional development.

Innovation and Value Addition

Brazil's leather industry has climbed the value chain by moving beyond the export of raw hides to producing semi-finished and finished products. This progression has resulted in higher margins and showcases the industry's capacity for innovation. Brazilian leather is used in high-quality products ranging from fashion to automotive interiors, a testament to the industry's versatility and adaptability.

Investment in Technology

To remain competitive globally, the Brazilian leather industry has invested in modern technology for processing hides and manufacturing products. These investments increase efficiency, reduce waste, and improve the quality of leather, helping Brazilian products stand out in the international market.

Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability has become an economic driver in its own right within the leather industry. Responding to global environmental concerns, the Brazilian leather sector has adopted sustainable practices, which have opened new markets that favor environmentally friendly products. This move towards sustainability has not only improved the industry's image but has also proven to be economically beneficial.

For 2024, the association highlighted the sector’s goal to invest in sustainability. “The purpose of all tanneries in Brazil is to value leather and, more especially, to look deeply into sustainability. There are many projects underway with joint efforts throughout the tannery supply chain to improve processes and compliance, and this will be the focus of this year”, concluded Rogério Cunha.

Challenges and Resilience

Despite facing challenges such as economic fluctuations, competition from artificial materials, and environmental concerns, the Brazilian leather industry has shown remarkable resilience. It has adapted to changing market conditions by focusing on premium products and exploring new markets.

Policy and Economic Planning

The Brazilian government, in partnership with industry bodies like the CICB, has played a critical role in shaping policies that support the leather industry. These policies have included trade agreements, export incentives, and investment in infrastructure, which have collectively supported the industry's growth and its economic significance to the country.

The leather industry's economic significance in Brazil is undeniable. It is a source of national pride, a contributor to the GDP, a provider of jobs, a driver of innovation, and a sector that has shown adaptability and resilience in the face of global challenges. As it continues to evolve, the industry's ability to integrate sustainability with economic growth will be pivotal in ensuring its continued contribution to Brazil's prosperity.



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LeaCar: Expert Reviews on Genuine Leather Car Accessories: The Economic Significance of Leather in Brazil: Insights from CICB Data
The Economic Significance of Leather in Brazil: Insights from CICB Data
Explore the vital role and economic benefits of Brazil's robust leather industry, its global impact, and sustainable practices.
LeaCar: Expert Reviews on Genuine Leather Car Accessories
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