The director of UK Leather, Dr Kerry Senior, has said a downturn in demand for leather owes more to economic factors than to trends such as veganism.

In response to questions from footwear consultant and blogger Susannah Davda, Dr Senior said the leather industry could not afford to be blasé about the potential impact of veganism because a reduction in beef consumption in the UK and Europe, where veganism is what he described as “very on-trend at the moment”, led to a contraction in the number of hides, it would impact on UK leather manufacturers who, for the most part, use hides sourced in the UK and Europe.

However, he insisted that global meat consumption is rising and pointed out that there is currently a surplus of hides and skins that are not being converted to leather and consequently, will be disposed of. “This suggests that the current decline in demand for leather is not due to a shift towards veganism,” he said. “It’s likely that economic factors are far more relevant to the global trade of leather, than veganism.”

He said that, so far, there has been “no tangible effect on the UK leather industry” from the trend towards veganism. He pointed out that, even by conservative estimates, 90% of the UK population still eats meat and should have no qualms about using leather.