Leather production is one of the most important industries in the world, so it’s interesting to consider: which countries actually produce the most leather? Here, we’ll look at the 5 countries that produce the most leather in the world:
China produces, by far, the largest amount of each category of leather we’ve considered: heavy leather (typically sole, belting, strap, and mechanical leathers made from unsplit hides), light leather (used in most other applications: bags, coats, shoes, etc) from bovine animals (cattle, including buffalo and bison), and light leather from sheep and goats. Overall, the Chinese leather industry produces nearly 4 billion square feet of leather per year - more than double the next highest producer.
Brazil comes in second, almost exclusively producing light leather from bovine animals. Of the 1.7 billion square feet of leather produced in Brazil, less than 4% is sheep and goat leather, and just over 2% is heavy leather - but even those small percentages add up to more leather than the total amount produced in most countries in the world.
In third place is Italy, the undisputed European leader in leather production. Producing over 1.5 billion square feet of leather per year, most of their leather is light leather from bovine animals; about 25% is from sheep and goat and about 3% is heavy leather.
Russia takes the fourth position with just over 1.4 billion square feet of leather per year, but leather production in Russia has been declining since the early 90’s and has probably actually been passed by India since the last numbers came out. Russia produces mainly light leather from bovine animals, 8% sheep & goat, and less than 3% heavy.
Neck & neck with Russia, India rounds out our top 5, producing nearly 1.4 billion square feet of leather per year. Interestingly, India produces nearly equal amounts of light leather from bovine animals, sheep, & goat leather. There over 670 million square feet of sheep and goat leather is actually more than that produced in Brazil. This makes India second only to China in production of sheep and goat leather.
Just for reference, the United States’ total annual leather production is just under 6.7 million square feet, putting the US in 8th place (behind 6th South Korea and 7th Argentina). To view the report providing these statistics, you can click here. (Or, for more interesting viewing, you can click here to see our handcrafted leather bags and accessories.)