- Consumer interest in the leather industry is low, but beef consumption is high, resulting in a surplus of hides and falling prices, Quartz reported.
- The footwear industry is the biggest buyer of leather, making up 55% of demand, according to Bloomberg.
- Socially-conscious consumers are seeking out goods without animal by-products, going for materials such as canvas, microfiber and plastic.
They were right! Our teachers and professors said the social sciences were important to learn and understand. But who had the time and the inclination to care about courses like sociology (society), anthropology (human behavior) and economics (consumption)? After all, everyone wanted to load up on business courses to get out of school and make a ton of money.
But, we had to take those pesky required humanities courses all while laughing at those who majored in such "touchy-feely" majors. Heck, we almost felt sorry for their lack of income potential!
But that subject matter is pretty relevant these days ... and I'm betting that it has always been. The focus on societal trends, human behavior and production is really at the forefront of business. While the best marketing strategies and plans continue to get rolled out on a short-term basis to influence buying patterns, it is the longer-term behaviors and trends that prove to be the most impactful.
Years ago, eating beef was considered unhealthy, resulting in depressed prices for beef and a shortage of hides for then-popular leather shoes. Now, eating beef, or any protein, is in vogue and there are plenty of hides. But, the shoe trends have changed, depressing the need for hides for shoe manufacturing.
By-products, the resulting products from a food manufacturing process, have always been important and part of product strategies for many companies. For example, pickle relish is made from cucumbers that could not be sold as pickles ... perhaps they didn’t meet size requirements or had blemishes. And chitin, the product refined from discarded lobster shells, is used in a number of pharmaceuticals.
But these by-products continue at the mercy of society and technology. In the coastal area where I live, there was once a factory that made mucilage, a type of glue that was made with fish by-products. When fish landings decreased and better glues became available, the factory was closed and developed into condos.
There is countless business and social science based interdependencies that come and go over time, all impacting the supply chain. Supply chain managers need to always be looking at the bigger picture. I do remember my freshman sociology teacher to be passionate about the topic, well organized and interesting. Now I wish I had listened to him a bit more closely.