This website is issued by Fur Europe with the purpose to provide reliable information and contribute to a balanced image of natural fur in Europe. We live in and work from Brussels, and we represent the whole value chain of the European fur sector including farmers, auction houses, furriers, designers, manufacturers and retailers.
We have implemented the most serious animal welfare programme in the world, and continues to work with a wide range of sustainability policies. A slowfashion alternative to synthetics, natural fur is an integrated part of Europe's circular bio economy, and represents a renewable fashion material with extraordinarily long active product life.
Animal Welfare based on science
WelFur is a state of the art animal welfare assessment programme developed by independent scientists from seven universities in Europe. By 2020, more than 3.400 European mink and fox farms will be professionally certified by independent third party assessors. An associated labelling scheme will provide transparency and help consumers to buy WelFur certified fur products.Learn more
Animal Welfare Expert: Welfare Cannot Be Assessed Through Checking Walls
Jun 02 2020 - Resource and management indicators could be used to identify risk factors, but welfare cannot be assessed through checking walls or floors, says Antoni Dalmau, an animal welfare researcher from Institute of Agrifood Research and Technology (IRTA) in Spain. He spent the last 15 years studying the complexity of one of the long-standing issues in farming – how to ensure a quality life for farmed animals. “Animal welfare is a condition of the individual animal, and animal welfare science is more and more about the assessment of the animal’s own experience. Only animal-based indicators can give you an idea about that.’’ The physical and emotional health of an animal as well as its behaviour, known as animal welfare, is at the centre of a long-lasting discussion between policymakers, scientists, and farmers. In recent years, it has also become part of the broader debate about sustainability practices in farming. But before anything else, animal welfare is a question of science. In order to evaluate the wellbeing of farmed animal species, scientists rely on animal-based indicators. They examine the physical and emotional state, the behaviour and even the appearance of an animal to determine the quality of life on the farm. But the process is not straightforward. To get a detailed picture, researchers take into account the so-called resource-based and management-based indicators which measure the environment where animals are bred. According to Mr Dalmau, although they provide important additional information, they cannot be given the same weight the measures which look directly into the animal. “You cannot assess what you are not observing. You are not assessing welfare if you are not using animal-based measures. If you are observing walls, you are assessing walls.” Creating an assessment based on the housing systems, for example, could give simplified and even misleading results, which do to reflect truly animal’s state of wellbeing. According to him, many people prefer these indicators because they are easier to communicate and understand. “NGOs are used to work with resource and management-based parameters because they are easy to apply and to communicate to their funding bodies and society - I don’t allow cages; I don’t allow tail docking; I don’t allow castration; I ask for free-range. This is easy to assess and to communicate.’ Narrowing it down the assessment method jeopardises the scientific objectivity, adds Mr Dalmau. “For most of the people, this means, better. But not for the animals. For them, easier, faster and cheaper is not better. For them, what is better is that their interests and states are taken into account.” According to him, this is also the reason why it is difficult to create one single animal welfare law across Europe. EU policymakers spent the last decade looking into ways to how to create a common framework for animal welfare legislation. Currently, there are not harmonised rules across the continent, and animal welfare is regulated by EU directives while rules in member states vary. More than a decade ago, the European Commission launched the Welfare Quality project in an effort to understand how animal welfare could be quantified. The research project endorsed the animal-based indicators and prompted the creation of protocols for cattle, pigs and poultry. Later, it also laid the groundwork for industry-led, voluntary certification programmes such as WelFur and WELFAIR™ - a livestock farms and slaughterhouses certification programme in Spain covering different animals. The European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals is the latest initiative to collect and compare animal welfare data, and possibly help policymakers to create common legislation. According to Mr Dalmau, many expect science to provide a clear and simple, black or white answer about animal welfare, whereas the issue is much more complicated. ‘’Welfare is not present or absent, black or white; it is continuous improvement, and for this reason a good scientific validating and a realistic plan are important.’’ Current animal welfare programmes have been time-consuming and expensive to create. They required scientific knowledge, validating the science, training assessors and carrying out the large-scale inspections. But they also proved it is possible to evaluate and quantify animal welfare through science – knowledge which one day could be useful when the time for common animal welfare law comes.
Fur Europe issues updated corona guidelines for mink farmers
May 26 2020 - On the basis of ongoing research on four mink farms in The Netherlands, Fur Europe has updated the guidelines for mink farmers, which were issued first time 26 April. The updated guidelines reflect new findings in the research suggesting SARS CoV-2 may be transmissible from mink to human. Dutch Agriculture Minister Carola Schouten said the risk of such animal-to-human transmission of the virus outside fur farms is "negligible." Fur Europe continues to monitor the development in The Netherlands. Download Covid-19 disease guidelines for mink farmers (pdf).
New Covid-19 research results from Dutch mink farms
May 20 2020 - Based on initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it may be possible that an infection from mink back to a farm employee has occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands have been infected. Based on new initial research results from the ongoing investigation into Covid-19 contamination on mink farms in the Netherlands, Dutch authorities now say it is plausible may be possible that an infection from mink back to farm employee has occurred. It is not possible to say with 100 per cent certainty how the contamination occurred. However, further research is needed to establish how and when people and animals associated with mink farms in the Netherlands could have been infected. The Dutch authorities maintain that the risk of human exposure to virus outside mink farms is negligible. Biosecurity measures have however been legally enforced on all Dutch mink farms as a consequence of the new findings, and non-essential visitors are not allowed on mink farms at present. So far the Dutch Minister of Agriculture rejects that culling of the herd is a necessary precaution. "The Dutch authorities have so far successfully taken responsibility for containing Covid-19 on the mink farms. Fur Europe has already issued biosecurity guidelines across the industry, and we will continue to react on basis of the ongoing research in the Netherlands," says Mette Lykke Nielsen, CEO of Fur Europe. Covid-19 is known to have infected a total of five farms, all in the same area of the Netherlands. As a consequence of the new findings, screening for antibodies will take place on all mink farms in the Netherlands. Farm cats are under suspicion for transmission of virus between farms, and this is a part of the ongoing research. Air and dust samples collected outside the farms have demonstrated virus is not airborne, and a 400-meter precautionary security zone around the five infected mink farms have been lifted.
We already know fur has long life time. Here is how it gets longer
May 19 2020 - There is technical life time to clothing, and then there is a social life time of clothing. The technical life time is about the physical strength of materials, how long does it last without breaking or ‘wear out’? "A product like natural fur has technical potential for long life time, so it is important to work with the social side," said Ingun Grimstad Klepp, research professor at Consumption Research Norway, Oslo Metropolitan University. She conducts research on sustainable textile and clothing, with a particular focus on the user-phase of clothing. This area of clothing is somewhat underexposed in the sustainability debate, yet understanding how and why people wear their clothes is critically important to reduce the environmental impact of fashion. This is based on the simple observation that the more we wear the same clothes, the less we will buy new, resource-demanding clothes. The user-phase of clothes can be studied empirically as the connection between material and cultural aspects of clothing and consumption. Here you can find answers to why some garments become favourite clothes, while other garments are hardly used, if ever. Life time is impacted by a number of social or cultural factors, important ones being whether the clothes fit, and what use we have for the particular types of clothes in our wardrobes – active outdoor people will utilise outdoor garments more excessively. What is ‘in fashion’ is a less important to active use than people may think, but reflects that active use of clothing sometimes change over time. "Waterproof suits became more used when the design became more light and functional. A wedding dress on the other hand, will not be worn more than once by the same user," Ingun Klepp said. Personalisation and flexibility Improving the social or cultural life time of natural fur would apply mainly to the design- and manufacturing part of the fur community’s value chain. It would imply to take advantage of the already strong technical characteristics of fur and support its extended use in the future. At design level this can unfold as preparing for multiple users by preparing for future refurbishing and repair – think push buttons for example – while also paying attention to personalisation and garment fitting. Areas more exposed to being ‘worn out’ can be made replaceable, and good quality can be enforced by the use of good technical quality in add-ons like buttons and linings. "You can work with adaption of fur for different occassions, for example clothes that works for both festitive and less festitive occassions, as something that protects against the cold, but still usable when the weather is mild. Overall, you can say it is about flexibility," Ingun Klepp said. At commercial level it might unfold as new business models targeting the sharing economy. Innovation could also rise from changing the original product: "It is a very interesting feature of fur that products can be reused and turned into something else," Ingun Klepp said. In Norway however, this is not happening a lot. Many furs are stocked in Norwegian cellars and ceilings, and are simply not being put to use. "There are many people who don’t dare use their inherited furs – or buy a second-hand fur. I believe this is wrong. Everything that has already been produced ought to be used with good consciousness," Ingun Klepp said. Fur farming will be banned in Norway from 2024, following a decade-long political debate that has helped shape the stigmatisation of fur that exists in Norway today. Thus it created attention when Ingun Klepp publicly promoted the use of second-hand furs in Norway for environmental reasons, a position quickly disputed by animal lobbyists fearing increased use of second-hand furs will add to the legitimation of ‘new’ fur. "Those who disagree with me talk about symbolic value, but for me it is a matter of good utilisation of resources," Ingun Klepp said. Whether this little part of the sustainability debate in Norway will lead to more Norwegians wearing second-hand fur has yet to be proved, but Ingun Klepp says the reactions suggest many people principally agree. Clothing life time becomes important This resonates well with Ingun Klepp’s expectations that a ‘new way of consuming’ is underway to its breakthrough: "Today, people take mass consumption for granted, and consumers have gotten used to it, and consume accordingly because they have gotten used to being able to buy ‘new’ all the time. But it was not always like this, mass consumption was a revolution when it happened, but consumer behaviour have matured beyond mass consumption, there is an element of ‘been there, done that’ around today. The interest for re-use, knitting and home production is growing," Ingun Klepp said. But one thing is talking about fashion’s transition towards sustainability. Another is what actually happens. This part is largely still in front of us, but change may happen fast: "We don’t see rapid changes in the consumer development. On the other hand, if we look at the debate it is evident it has changed a lot. There are many things which point in the direction of fast-paced changes. It has to do with both youth and politics," Ingun Klepp said, with reference to the climate-conscious youth movement, and the undeniable emergence of green reform legislation across the world, before stressing her point with a hands-on example: "The debate that follows plastic waste in the oceans is a part of a life time discussion. The whole discussion over plastic is about user-phase and life time, and it has led to certain single-use plastic products being banned. It is clear that we are now discussing these things, and therefore life time becomes important."
Sustainable Fur Forum
Farm to Fork Strategy: Opportunity for Animal Welfare
May 12 2020 - "It’s going to be a strong proposal," said the Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans on 22 April in the European Parliament regarding the upcoming 'Farm to Fork Strategy' (F2F), one of the cornerstones of the Green Deal, the EU’s flagship environmental policy. Twice delayed, the F2F Strategy is expected to be released in May. Although not directly involved in food production, Fur Europe looks forward to the publication of the Strategy as it should trigger evaluation and possible revision of the EU animal welfare legislation, according to a version of the draft Strategy leaked in March. Indeed, Fur Europe – which represents the European fur value chain - regards the F2F Strategy as an opportunity to develop coherent and future-proof animal welfare policies in the agri-business. The last available version of the draft leaked on 6th of March is promising "the Commission will evaluate the existing EU legislation with the view to revising it”. Since long before the arrival of the new Commission and the communication around the Green Deal and the F2F Strategy, Fur Europe has been advocating the adoption of a new EU Animal Welfare Strategy, including an animal welfare framework law covering all farmed animals (food and non-food producing animals) at all life stages, to update and replace current legislation. In the context of a future review of the EU legislation on animal welfare, Fur Europe points out that decision-making related to animal welfare should be based on peer-reviewed scientific evidence and facts from the field in order to provide legal protection for high animal welfare standards essential for sustainable animal farming systems. Priority should be given to the development of animal welfare indicators. The particularity of animal-based indicators is that they measure several aspects directly on individual animals. Since the launch of the animal welfare programme Welfur in 2009, the European fur industry has worked with animal indicators as the modern, professional way to monitor different aspects of animal welfare (housing, feeding, health, behaviour). Welfur is based on the principles of the European Commission-funded Welfare Quality® project and has been developed by independent scientists from seven European universities. European fur farms under the WelFur scheme are certified by independent assessors. Fur farms are assessed with 20 different measurements chosen for their reliability and scientific validity. The certification requires three farm assessments, while the maintenance of the WelFur certificate requires one assessment per year. Fur farmers who do not score high enough do not obtain the WelFur certificate. Without the certificate, fur farmers cannot sell their furs via international fur auction houses. So far, 21 fur farms in Europe, less than 1 per cent of assessed farms, have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. All fur producing countries or regions have a so-called Welfur advisor available for them. These advisors are veterinarians who help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. Likewise, Welfur is part of the self-regulations recognised by the European Commission. Such a recognition implies that the system has been scrutinised for its validity and credibility and therefore qualifies for legal implementation. The EURCAW-Small Animals (or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals) – which has started operating in 2020, will have the responsibility to introduce animal indicators. Indeed, the comparison of Welfur results from different countries could be helpful for the centre, which is competent for the welfare of fur animals, although its primary focus should be on poultry welfare until 2022. In parallel to EURCAW-Small Animals, Welfur would bring a significant contribution to the work of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare, whose role is to promote an enhanced dialogue on animal welfare issues, which are relevant at EU level among competent authorities, businesses, civil society and scientists. The representation of the fur industry in the Platform should thus be ensured, or at least ad hoc invitations should be guaranteed to interested stakeholders. The F2F Strategy will aim to develop a baseline and indicators on key animal welfare provisions, and the Welfur method offers a good example of an animal welfare programme. Definitely, Welfur and the future revision of the EU animal welfare legislation triggered by the F2F Strategy will be in the coming month major topics of discussion within the Sustainable Fur Forum, the informal platform of discussion in the European Parliament that offers high-level expertise and scientific knowledge on fur related topics to MEPs.
EURCAW-Small Animals is open: WelFur to play a role
Apr 28 2020 - The EURCAW-Small Animals - or the European Union Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals - started operating in 2020. Europe’s other small farmed animals are all the fur farmed species, so the centre will have direct impact on European fur farming. EURCAW-Small Animals’ main objective is to provide support to the European Commission and Member States in the official implementation and control of animal welfare regulations. Introducing animal indicators are amongst the responsibilities of the centre, in addition to collection of comparable data on the welfare of animals across Europe for the European Commission. It goes without saying WelFur works along these lines already. Much attention will however be directed to poultry in the first two years of the centre’s existence. "The centre’s main task is to support the national welfare bodies in the Member States and the Commission with officials controls on the welfare and compliance with legal standards. I imagine comparison of WelFur results from different countries would be interesting in the context of the centre," Henrik Steen Møller, Aarhus University said. EURCAW-Small Animals is a consortium formed by the Institute of AgriFood Research (IRTA), the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation-ANSES (France), the Aarhus Universitet-Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (Italy).
Fur Europe issues guidelines as mink test positive for COVID-19
Apr 26 2020 - Three mink on a Dutch mink farm have tested positive for COVID-19, and a second Dutch farm is assumed to be infected with COVID-19 as well. Dutch authorities said COVID-19 most likely have been transmitted from farm employees to animals. One employee has been tested positive, while others have shown symptoms of COVID-19. 'Dutch authorities also stressed that transmission risk from animals to humans is considered negligible. 'Human to human' remains the driving for the spread of COVID-19. The Dutch authorities are now taking blood samples from animals on the farms in question in order to test for anti-bodies and measure the spread of the virus within the farms in question. The information gathered can also be important for human epidemiological knowledge. Fur Europe has immediately issued advice and guidelines to members in all mink producing countries. Update: Following the first findings, mink on four farms, all in the same area, have tested positive for COVID-19. The number of diseased animals remain very low: "Only a few mink showed symptoms of the disease on the farms. The mink are kept in separate pens, which means that there is little to no contact between the animals. It appears to be an acute outbreak, where the farms quickly overcome the peak of the disease. The chance that mink will function as a reservoir of the virus appears to be small," Dutch experts from Waagenen University explain in a Q&A.
Fur pelt prices are about to go up again
Apr 23 2020 - Following a price bubble in the period 2010-2013, fur pelt prices have been dropping significantly with a subsequent decrease in world production. The same market development has been observed before and history suggests pelt prices are about to go up again soon, according to Senior Advisor at University of Copenhagen's Department of Food and Resource Economics, Henning Otte Hansen. He has earlier written a book about the Danish mink production and the underlying economic structures of the global fur trade. Now he has examined price- and production statistics for natural fur pelts from 1950 to 2019. "The price increases are about to come. It’s only a matter of the time perspective,” he said, explaining mink pelts are price elastic products, a characteristic achieved because by a market without the market regulations are known from other agricultural products, where prices do not vary much over time. The price-setting on the market for natural fur pelts is truly expressing supply and demand, although it takes a few years for the supply to adjust to demand when prices first begin to drop. “You can tell from the statistics that price and supply are closely associated. When the supply - the global production of pelts - have been decreasing for a while, the prices begin to go up. If prices go up the supply goes up as well. When the supply again exceeds the demand, the pelt prices drop, and rather quickly and dramatically too.” This pattern happened from around 2000 when prices were at the bottom, and towards 2013, when prices again reached a peak. “When the price was at the top in 1987, it took about 8 years before it began to increase dramatically again. If the same pattern repeats this time, prices will begin to increase again in 2021 latest,” he said. The effects of the COVID-19 may, however, impact the curve. “If the corona-crisis develops into economic crisis and recession the demand for fur will drop. As the demand for fur products is relatively dependent on income, a poor economy can impact the demand considerably,” Henning Otte Hansen said, but pointed out the negative fluctuation in pelt price that followed the global financial crisis in 2009, was short and the upward price curve for that period continued shortly after. Another possibility is that economic effects from the corona-crisis extend the period before prices go up again. The global mink production has now dropped to about 45 million pelts, down from all-time high 87 million in 2014. This is approximately the same as world production in 2007.
21 Fur Farms Failed to Obtain WelFur Certificate
Apr 08 2020 - Out of 2,787 European mink and fox farms which so far have had the initial three WelFur assessments, 21 farms - corresponding to 0.8 per cent - have failed to obtain a WelFur certificate. Without a WelFur certificate, the farm owners are prevented from selling their pelts at the international fur auction houses. The auctions are the regular marketplace for natural fur pelts, and without access to the market, these farmers are effectively put out of business. Other 57 farms, equaling 2 per cent, failed to obtain a certificate after three assessments. However, by later on passing a so-called 'correction assessment' before which critical issues were brought to order, all of these achieved their certification. "I regret we were not able to get everybody on board. At least it shows the certification scheme works. It’s not our ambition to let go of European fur farmers; it is rather our ambition to educate and guide everybody towards farm practices which supports good animal welfare. We welcome fur farmers back into WelFur if they can demonstrate they have improved their farm or management practices sufficiently," John Papsø, chairman of Fur Europe said. All countries or regions have a so-called WelFur advisor around; typically these are veterinarians working with the national fur breeders’ association. This person’s job is to help fur farmers analyse the WelFur data to improve animal welfare systematically. The WelFur advisor is particularly important to fur farmers who failed the original WelFur assessment because they can help change farmers to pass their correction assessment. Another 152 farms currently have no certification, but most of these are awaiting the third and final assessment before a certificate can be issued.
Sustainable Fur Forum
“We must make sure the fur sector stays viable and can weather the crisis”
Apr 08 2020 - Fur Europe is glad to count on the support of MEP Juozas Olekas, who has kindly accepted to Chair the Sustainable Fur Forum (SFF). Mr Olekas became Member of the European Parliament in July 2019. Originally from Lithuania, he has a long-standing experience as former Defence and Health Minister. A surgeon by training, he sits in the European Parliament in the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, and he has taken upon himself to promote the interests of the EU farming sector. We asked him some questions about his new engagement as SFF Chair: Mr Olekas, why did you decide to become involved with the SFF? For many years, the fur industry has been surrounded by many unanswered questions or stereotypes that are unrealistic. Personally, I feel it is my duty not only to ensure that these questions are answered to our citizens but also to replace stereotypes with reality-based facts. Moreover, one of the main things that attracted me to the SFF was the promotion of the WelFur certification – which is a modern animal welfare standard, based on concrete scientific evidence and assessed by independent parties. A sector so dedicated to this kind of practice deserves our support. In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges the fur industry will face in the next five years? Currently, with the coronavirus sweeping across the world, there is a need to focus on the effects this major health crisis will have on the economy. The fur sector will also, unfortunately, feel the consequences. In essence, natural fur is a very specific product, and the demand for it can drop if the crisis persists and people’s income suffers a considerable decrease. The sector should continue to innovate and offer quality products, while also working on showcasing the environmentally-friendly and sustainable aspect of fur farming. Therefore, we must take all possible measures to ensure that the fur industry can continue to guarantee animal welfare and also high-quality products, which are two inseparable aspects. In light of the current health and economic crisis caused by the spreading of the coronavirus, what do you think the EU should do to support the European fur sector, considering that many SMEs like farms and manufacturers will be severely hit by the countermeasures adopted across Europe? The fur sector should be supported just as all the other sectors of the economy will be. It makes up a significant portion of the economy – exports of furs from the EU makeup almost three billion euro – and is an important employer in the rural areas, where jobs, in general, are not too easy to find. A hundred thousand people all over the UE work in the sector – people who usually live in areas where employment is scarce. If the sector is left to collapse, all those jobs will be lost, and a significant number of people will have few other opportunities for gainful employment. Therefore, we must make sure the sector stays viable and robust and can weather the crisis with as little loss as possible. We must bear in mind that the fur industry is mainly based on family businesses, which we Socialists and Democrats aim to secure throughout Europe. It is indisputable that it is these family businesses based on tradition, togetherness and solidarity that should be our priority, in order to protect our citizens and their interests during this crisis. When, if not now, can we provide them with the kind of essential support they currently need so much? The first event of the Forum will be focused on the new Circular Economy Action Plan recently launched by the European Commission. What role do you think the fur industry can play in making the EU economy more sustainable and circular? The fur industry can be a very important player in the circular economy – mainly because the sector itself, by its specifics, is very sustainable and an example of circularity. Fur farms use the waste from other agri-food sectors as a feed for the animals, thus using up the waste from food production that would otherwise remain out of the circle of production. The waste of fur farms is also used in other sectors of agriculture – as fertiliser or biofuel. And the product of those same farms – the fur – is inherently long-lasting and biodegradable, as opposed to most synthetic fabrics. We must recognise the benefits provided by the fur sector and make sure its role as an example of a circular economy is noted.