CEO Message to Stakeholders

 

Stepping up debate on natural fur versus plastic fur

During 2018, events in the fashion industry spurred the real fur versus fake fur debate among socially conscious consumers, with real fur increasingly embraced as the natural, authentic fashion choice that also helps save the planet. Responsibly produced natural fur products are the alternative to plastic fake fur garments, because they are biodegradable. They also have a strong tradition as part the circular economy. For example, a fur garment can be repaired, remodelled, resold and recycled, even after 20 years or more, which is quite a different approach to today’s fast fashion.

 

Biodegradability research positive on fur

A study on biodegradability conducted this year by experts from the Organic Waste Systems laboratory in Ghent, Belgium, examined how real and fake fur degrade in conditions set up to mimic closed landfill, known as anaerobic biodegradation. The test revealed partial disintegration of natural fur over the 30-day test period, whereas fake fur did not show any signs of disintegration. Researchers also looked at the average biodegradation of a number of natural products and found that real fur degrades at the same rate as an oak or willow tree leaf. The fake fur is composed of synthetic fibres, which are known to eventually break down into ever smaller pieces, over decades, forming the microplast fibres that contribute to plastic pollution. These findings and others like them are forcing those who support fake fur to consider the long-term impact of wearing plastic, petroleum-based products.

 

Fully certified mink lots show price premium

In 2017, we lead the industry with our offering of 100% certified mink lots at our auction. While Saga Furs sales of Fox and Finnraccoon have already been 100% certified for more than five years, this mink offering was the first of this kind for Saga Furs and the industry. Not only do I see this offering as moving the farming community towards even higher standards, in 2018, for the first time, we began to see a price differential in our fully certified mink sales, versus non-certified. This further attests to both the economic and environmental value of our sustainability programmes.

 

Saga certification with Welfur Inside

We are in the process of incorporating a new industry-level protocol called WelFur, into Saga’s already comprehensive farm certification program. Welfur is a science-based animal welfare assessment, developed by independent scientists at seven European universities, which officially comes on stream in Europe in 2020. From then, Saga will sell only Welfur-assessed European mink, fox and Finnraccoon pelts.

During the year we’ve been supporting our European farmer supplier community, educating them on Welfur protocol and helping them prepare for the transition. We’ve also started to incorporate key message points about Welfur within our communications strategy.

 While we strongly support this industry wide program as a way of ensuring the highest standards for raising farmed animals, we do not see Welfur as sufficiently comprehensive for holding our farmer suppliers accountable on various other aspects of farm management, including the environment. We have therefore redefined our Saga certification strategy to call our programme: ‘Saga Certification with Welfur Inside.’

 

Saga leads industry in transparency and traceability

Transparency and traceability continued to be banner themes this year, with fashion industry stakeholders increasingly demanding higher levels of product transparency. Only Saga Certified pelts are traceable using ‘STS’, the unique Saga Traceability System, and we continue to push forward on research and development for the next generation RFID technology, which will ultimately allow shoppers to scan a mobile phone across an RFID hang tag and to get real time information on a product’s origin. We’ve finalized our RFID testing process; selected our hardware; we’ve developed the software and we’ve finalized and prepared for the first pilot testing project. But we’re not quite there yet.

 

Green light on sustainable LED lighting

In 2018, we completed the first step in an ambitious plan to convert all the company’s warehouse lighting into environmentally friendly long-life LED lights. The plan, which is already bringing environmental and economic savings, began with an investment of more than 42,000 euro for the conversion of 1,114 lights. Based on the projected 18,000 euro in annual savings, the investment will be offset in less than three years. I have also approved plans to continue into 2019 with an additional investment of 60,000 euro into green light upgrades. In terms of climate action, Saga Furs already sources only carbon-free renewable energy for its company-wide heating.

 

Pertti Fallenius

1 March 2019