Brazil Center for the Tanning Industry, Brazil Leather Exports October 2013, Brazil leather industry, Cascavel/Ceará, Centro das Indústrias de Curtumes do Brasil (CICB), Cut & Sew Leather factory, Leather covers for upholstery, Women in industry
While I was enjoying the quiet working environment in the Finance Department at Italbras Leather Producer & Exporter Ltd.,* new developments were underway in the Italian-Brazilian joint venture company. At the newly completed Cut & Sew Factory, about a brisk five-minute walk from the tannery, over a hundred young women—from Cascavel, Ceará, where Italbras was located—were being trained in the operation of German-made industrial sewing machines.
When Mr. Leonelli,* our Italian Commercial Director, invited me to be part of his four-person export team, he made me the contact person for our English-speaking clients, including our first Cut & Sew client. Thus began my involvement with the Cut & Sew Leather Factory and its subsequent development to include clients from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and the United States.
On my first visit to the factory, I was surprised to see that the sewing machines were mounted on high tables requiring the women to work on their feet. The factory manager, a leather industry expert from South Brazil, explained that this practice reduced injuries and health risks. Using plywood patterns produced by the factory’s digital cutting machine, young men worked at large tables dissecting hides into the pieces needed to make the covers.
Sewers worked on different sections of the sofa covers. The woman responsible for sewing together the various sections had the heaviest load to handle.
“How do you manage with the weight?” I asked her.
“It gives me pain in my shoulders and back,” she told me.
They were simple, intelligent, hardworking women, many of them married with children. I discovered on subsequent visits to the factory that some of them were illiterate.
After quality inspection of the finished leather covers, a team of young men took care of packing the covers on pallets for shipment. Our Cut & Sew Leather Factory produced covers for ottomans, chairs, love seats, sofas, reclining sofas, and sectionals (the most complex design).
Brazilian leather exports of hides and skins to date have already shown signs of an increase over last year exports. In their Analysis of Brazilian Exports of Hides and Skins for October 2013, the Brazil Center for the Tanning Industry (CICB – Centro das Indústrias de Curtumes do Brasil) reported that exports in October 2013, totaling US$236,908 million, exceeded exports for the previous month by 6.8 percent and 28.3 percent over exports in October 2012. Finished leather comprised 55.5 percent of total exports.
Ceará ranked fifth among Brazil’s states with the largest leather exports: São Paulo (20.3%), Rio Grande do Sul (19.8%), Goiás (12.5%), Paraná (11.6%), Ceará (7.9%), and Mato Grosso do Sul (6.4%).
For the period January to October 2013, the top three destinations for Brazilian leather exports were China/Hong Kong (35.7%), Italy (21.2%), and the United States (10.2%).
For readers interested in learning more about Brazil’s leather industry and its major producers and exporters, more data is available on the CICB website, as well as the names and contact information of their associate members.
* Fictitious name