Furs and firs fare well this season

Despite the economic climate, some winter luxuries just can’t be sacrificed

While global warming and the recession mean a tough winter for many crops, other farmers fare surprisingly well in changing temperatures.

The Danish fur market is one of them. Reuters reported recently that Kopenhagen Fur – the world’s largest fur auction house – is currently facing unprecedented demand from international buyers.

“As it looks now, we expect the 2012/2013 season to see record high prices and volume,” the company's managing director Torben Nielsen told Reuters.

Kopenhagen Fur’s December auction, which took place last week, saw just that – a record turnout of 500 fur-seeking bidders. The average price per skin had risen to 582 kroner, up 12 percent from September’s auction – the highest price ever recorded by the company.

Nielsen suggested that there's a specific reason why furs have been selling particularly well: the weather. Chilly conditions, he explained, often boost fur sales considerably.

“A good winter helps significantly,” Nielsen said. “It is a bit silly to put a fur coat under the Christmas tree in 20 degrees.”

The winter temperatures especially aided the sale of Danish furs abroad. Beijing, for example, saw the coldest week in 14 years at the beginning of December, while China’s northern neighbours in Moscow witnessed the heaviest November snow in almost 50 years.

Some 85 percent of the buyers at Kopenhagen Fur’s auction last week came from China, Reuters reported. Mink now accounts for a third of Danish exports to China.

Fur isn’t the only cold-weather luxury to fare well throughout the economic downturn – Danish Christmas trees are also selling particularly well.

As Poul Copmann, a Danish Christmas tree field manager, recently told The Economist, people would rather go into debt than do without a festive fir.

Denmark is one of Europe’s top tree exporters, sending over ten million trees from 3,500 growers each season to locations around the world. Since 1996, The Economist reported, Danish tree exports have risen from 500 million to 1.5 billion kroner.

The tree industry has faced its share of struggles, however. Cheaper plastic imitations have gained popularity in recent years, as manufacturers create more realistic imitations and buyers have become increasingly concerned about fire hazards.

Unusually high temperatures and low rainfall this past summer also caused much of Denmark’s evergreen foliage to wither, researchers from the University of Copenhagen told The Economist.

Still, growers like Copmann hope that authenticity will always retain a certain value.

“If you invited me to dinner and I brought you a bunch of plastic flowers, you wouldn’t be too happy, would you?” he said.

It seems that some for certain luxuries, the real thing is worth shelling out for.





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