WASHINGTON – US hide, skin and leather exports set new records in 2013, according to statistics from the US Department of Agriculture.

Exports for wet salted cattle hides, which are hides that have been preserved using brine solutions, advanced 12 percent in value to $1.85 billion. Export prices for wet blue cattle hides, which are hides that have undergone the first stages of leather tanning, expanded 27 percent to nearly $800 million in value.

The value of pig and sow skin exports climbed 15 percent to $57 million, despite facing market access restrictions in key leather producing countries.

China remains the largest customer for US hides and skin products. The value of wet salted hides exported to China jumped 23 percent to $1.1 billion, while wet blue exports climbed 7 percent to $282 million.

“The US continues to be the world’s preferred supplier of raw and semi-processed materials for leather production.” said Stephen Sothmann, president of the US Hide, Skin and Leather Association, a division of the American Meat Institute. “Though the label may state ‘Made in China’ or ‘Made in Italy’, the hide or skin used to make the leather likely came from a Texas steer, a California dairy cow, an Iowa sow. Manufacturers throughout the world prefer to use US materials in their shoes, handbags, upholstery and automobiles.”