Acadiana Business

Alligator industry on upswing

by Leslie Turk

A strong 2010 harvest and expectations for 2011's harvest are "proof that the alligator industry is recovering," The Times-Picayune reports Monday. The state's alligator industry, which took a big hit from 2007 to 2008, appears to be recovering. But optimists remain cautious, as all eyes are clearly focused on Europe.

A report in Monday's Times-Picayune notes that farmers collected 353,176 eggs last year, up from 29,822 in 2009. During the height of the recession in 2009, gator farmer Nathan Wall didn't even bother collecting the eggs, which eventually hatch and become part of the harvest at Wall's Gator Farm in Springfield. Wall told The T-P the recession had many consumers forgoing they types of luxury goods produced from gator skins. But that appears to be changing:
The outlook at the moment for the industry is very positive, said Noel Kinler, a program manager for the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.

"A lot will hinge on what happens in Europe," Kinler said. "If current demand remains consistent or increases, you can expect a rise in prices."

The state's gator farmers and hunters account for around 80 percent of the total production of American alligators, most of which are used for their skin, which is sent off to Europe and Asia where it is made into high-end fashion items.

Rumpai Chalongsuk, chief executive officer of Reptile Tannery of Louisiana at 105 Dorset Ave., was on vacation and unavailable for comment Monday. In 2007 RTL was purchased by luxury goods house Herm├Ęs International, based in Paris.

Read the T-P story here.