Note: This is an older report, and a lot has changed since I wrote it. Click here for a more recent fur market update and fur price forecast.
I think fur prices have finally found their bottom, and we’re beginning to see a bounce in the market. After several years of supply/demand imbalance due to slowing economies in China and Russia, low oil prices and overproduction of ranch fur – and a year-long market disruption due to the worldwide pandemic – It looks like we’re coming out of it. Here’s the rundown:
The international wild fur auctions normally held by Fur Harvesters in North Bay, Ontario have been put on hold for the past year, either replaced by online auctions or postponed until travel restrictions are lifted. Although we haven’t had a large enough wild fur auction to discover where the market’s truly at, rumors have it that demand is steadily increasing worldwide as shops sell off existing inventory and are looking to replace it. Auctions in other parts of the world have confirmed this.
Two wild sable (marten) auctions held in Russia in February resulted in a 25% improvement in prices since December. Additionally, the Saga Furs auction held in early March showed significant price advancements and substantial clearances.
Although many state trappers associations had to cancel fur auctions due to the pandemic, several of the auctions that were held recently have shown that – for the most part – fur is moving. There is demand, and while prices aren’t where they were a few years ago, things are looking up.
The slowing Chinese economy and poor economic conditions in Russia due to low oil prices continue to suppress demand for fur in our two most important fur consuming countries. Despite this, supply has been severely depressed as well, and as demand begins to pick up ever so slightly, the supply isn’t there to meet it. As a result, fur prices should increase.
Let’s look at species specifics.
The large scale commercial market for high quality beaver pelts is almost nonexistent these days, due to the high production cost and labor intensive process required to make a beaver pelt work in the garment trade (plucking, shearing dyeing, etc). However, small niche markets are paying decent prices for beaver pelts where they can find them, and are paying $18-25 averages for the better ones. The remainder of the beaver pelts, destined for the hatter market, are bringing around $8-10.
Beaver Castor continues to hover around all time highs, selling at state auctions for around $80/lb., which should equate to the $90-100 level at the international auction.
The top quality western bobcats are once again selling, though nowhere near the $500-700 averages seen several years back. These days Western ‘cats are averaging around $150-200. Most of the Eastern and southern bobcats are fetching about $30.
Most western coyotes have been selling for $50-60, with top quality collections going north of $60. Eastern coyotes are selling for $15-25.
Just a few months ago, you couldn’t sell a raccoon for any price. Now the better coons are bringing $5 or 6, with some topping $10. The lower end are mostly in the $3-4 range. I expect that as the major fur auctions get going again, we could see a lot of upside in the raccoon market.
Muskrats continue to sell steadily in the $3-4 range, with some of the better ‘rats north of that.
Red Fox are still low, mostly at $10-15, and Gray Fox are selling for similar prices.
Mink are averaging $5-6, but I expect this number may pick up in the coming months.
Otter destined for the commercial trade are selling for $15-30, but specialty markets, particularly in the West, are paying $50-60 for some otter collections.
Eastern and Rocky Mountain Marten are selling in low quantities in the $25 range. This is a vast improvement on the $7.60 I received for Maine marten at auction a year ago. If the trend continues, better quality Canadian and Alaskan marten could be back to the $50-60 levels.
Fisher ranged from $20-45.
Skunks were mostly $5-10.
No, the fur market isn’t back, but it looks like better times are ahead, at least for the near term. We’ll keep you posted.