The chief executive of Danish meat plant and wet blue producer Scan-Hide, Michael Sondergaard, has said his organisation is close to being able to bring to market a laser-technology based system for marking and identifying hides. He said the idea consists of marking the hide when fresh with a series of characters that link to information about where the animal was born and how many times it moved farms before going to the abattoir. The markings survive wet-end processes, Mr Sondergaard has insisted.

Speaking at a workshop on traceability that leather industry organisations COTANCE and UNIC organised at Lineapelle, the Scan-Hide chief executive said: “We can have the whole life-story of the animal, from farm to shoe, farm to sofa and so on, and I believe this will add value, but to take cost out, players across the industry have to work together to roll it out.”

The leather supply chain in many parts of the world already has the means to guarantee to buyers that the leather they are buying comes from hides that come from animals that lived in keeping with the so-called ‘five freedoms’ for livestock. These commitments offer reassurance that the animals have been well treated and protected from pain, disease, discomfort, hunger and thirst, and allowed to carry out behaviour that is in keeping with animals of its kind.

Asked by World Leather what value the new system might add, over and above demonstrating a ‘five freedoms’ commitment, he said: “Look at young consumers: they want to know more about every product they buy, not just leather. What you can do with the system we want to introduce is add the story. Companies may choose to use it commercially or not, but we just want to offer it, to start the journey.”