Lace up for shoes fashioned out of chicken legs

Gearing up for a future that might see a reduced supply of cow-hide in the light of cow-slaughter bans, one of India’s premier labs dealing with leather technology, is looking at ways to use skin from unusual sources — chicken legs and fish scales — to meet domestic and export demands for leather.

The Chennai-based CSIR-Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) is looking to firm up deals with hatcheries in Tamil Nadu to ensure a steady and increased supply for chicken legs that can be used to prepare leather.

Alternative materials

“We have to look at alternative materials,” B. Chandrasekaran, Director, CLRI told The Hindu. “Exporters tell us about reduced supplies of cow hide. It’s still small now but we must be prepared.” The CSIR-CLRI already has a dedicated research project to understand how “200 million square feet of chicken legs” annually available can be turned into a viable aide for the leather industry.

Cow-hide constitutes about a quarter of the raw material that’s used to make leather with goat, sheep and buffalo supplying the bulk of the annual 1.8 billion square feet of leather produced in India. Bans on the slaughter of cows in Haryana and Maharashtra have meant a decline of 5%-10% in the supply of cow hide, Dr. Chandrasekaran added.

Annual turnover

According to the estimates from the India International Leather Fair 2015, the leather industry accounts for an annual turnover of over $11 billion, recording a cumulative annual growth rate of about 14.77%. India is also the second largest producer of footwear and leather garments in the world and employs 2.5 million, with nearly 30% of them being women.

Keywords: leather technology, CLRI, India International Leather Fair, leather from chicken, leather from fish

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