Developing Operations

Interview: Marja Tiura, Managing Director ProFur

“It’s unfortunate that the behavior of some farmers has affected the vast majority, who do a good job, caring for their animals and acting responsibly and sustainably.” Marja Tiura, Managing Director for ProFur

During 2017, an industry level inquiry arose into the practice in some cases of farmers raising oversized foxes. The inquiry carried over from trade publications into mainstream media and social media at multi-stakeholder levels.

Commenting on the practice, Marja Tiura, Managing Director of the Fur Breeders’ Association, ProFur says, “the overwhelming consensus at industry level is that it’s absolutely unacceptable.”

In response to the investigation and broader multi-stakeholder discussion, a landmark decision was announced by Saga Furs and its largest competitors (KF and NAFA), which together combine the majority of the global industry. Their decision was not to accept fox skins above the current limit of 160 cm, thereby ensuring that there would be no value proposition for farmers to raise larger sized foxes.

“Of course measuring weight limit and size is not always enough,” Tiura explains. “Farmers need to ensure that animals under their care reach an optimum size suitable to their frame and body weight which ensures them a state of balanced health.”

ProFur, with Tiura at the helm, plans to redouble its efforts, together with Saga Furs, to provide additional targeted education, counseling and supervision for Finland’s certified Blue Fox skin suppliers to ensure that cases like this do not happen in the future. “We have 540 fox farms in Finland and we are going door to door to make sure the message gets through.”

Farms raising Blue fox for sale in Finland to Saga Furs are audited regularly as well as subject to third-party inspection. According to Tiura, if a certified fox farmer is found to be breeding oversized foxes, they will lose their certification license and no longer be able to sell via Saga Furs. This is also what Saga Furs has assured their fashion brand customers.

“However, it’s unfortunate,” Tiura concludes, “that the behavior of some farmers has affected the vast majority, who do a good job, caring for their animals and acting responsibly and sustainably.”