During a meeting held in Shanghai in late August, the three International Leather Industry organisations that form the Global Leather Coordination Committee (GLCC) reviewed, among other topics, the issues regarding the protection of “leather” against fraudulent use of the term in the various global markets. They note with concern the proliferation of oxymoron, applying the term “leather” to materials that are either synthetic substitutes made of fossil fuel derivatives, or developed from a variety of natural substrates which can include residues from vineyards, the pineapple industry, or mushrooms, to name just a few.

“With such practices the good reputation of leather is increasingly diminished by unscrupulous traders; affecting public perception of leather and causing significant damage in the market, both to legitimate producers and consumers of leather products around the world. The latter have the right to transparent and truthful information on the goods sold or bought to facilitate informed purchasing decisions in the market and avoiding unfair competition”, says the GLCC.

The GLCC reaffirmed its position in defence the term “leather” that exclusively reserves the right to its use for the hide or skin of an animal that has been tanned in order to become imputrescible, and where the natural fibrous collagen structure can be clearly identified. It also said it extends its support to the efforts of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation’s (UNIDO) Leather Unit in the pursuit of measures that aim to eradicate environmental misbehaviour in the sector in certain countries.

The GLCC Committee calls on the EU to lead the way with an exemplary regulation on leather authenticity and says it encourages the U.S. Government to seek regulatory cooperation with the EU in its review of the Leather Guides.