Karakul Pelts Set Record Price

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By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Swakara, Namibia’s own brand of karakul pelts set a record price at the Copenhagen bi-annual auction held on Monday. The record price coincides with the industry’s centenary year, in celebration of the arrival of the first 12 karakul sheep that were imported to the country in 1907. A statement from Agra yesterday said 95 D-selected purple skins, achieved a record price of 970 Danish Krone (approximately N$1 250), recording an increase of 30 Danish Krone as the previous best price achieved in April 2006 was 640 Danish Krone (approx N$823,80). But comparing to average prices of 2006, this year achieved a lower average price of 340 Danish Krone, compared to 393 Danish Krone (about N$506) for the September 2006 auction for black skins only. Agra Pelt Centre Manager, Wessel Visser, said average prices were corrected downwards by about 13 percent especially in the lower grades. In previous years, the lower grades achieved above average prices mainly due to the demand being higher than what could be delivered by producers at the time, explained Visser. He added that the corrected price level made buyers more at ease than the higher prices paid at previous auctions, and bidding went smoothly and fast. About 60 000 pelts were sold at this auction. Agra is the appointed agent, which markets and sells karakul pelts of Namibian and South African producers internationally. Swakara prices have increased by more than 60 percent over the past two years and this year, the Agra Pelt Centre, which serves as a collection and international marketing agency for Namibian karakul pelts, received an above average supply of karakul pelts. Raimar von Hase, chairman of the Namibia Agricultural Union, who is also a karakul producer, noted that the average Swakara price is still higher than mink prices, which goes against the belief that mink always achieves the best prices. Due to warm weather conditions and economic challenges over the past six months, consumers are said to have cut spending on furs, which saw fur prices decreasing worldwide. As a result, prices achieved at the auction were more than satisfactory. “Indeed we are very happy with the prices achieved. Despite the slight price adjustment, or market correction as many buyers call it, Swakara remains a highly sought after fashion item,” said Chairperson of the Karakul Board of Namibia, Kobus van Wyk. This trend was seen during the product inspection, which takes place prior to the auction, during which many buyers and interested parties coming to the Swakara Hall to inspect the product highlighted the interest in Namibia’s unique and special product, according to Van Wyk.