Could Lab-Grown Leather Mean a Decline in Dairy?

Could Lab-Grown Leather Mean a Decline in Dairy?

A leather tannery in India

Dairy and leather go hand-in-hand. In addition to consumer demand for dairy products, leather demand provides an often overlooked financial incentive to breed ever larger herds. Indeed, without the support of the leather industry, dairy industry profits would suffer a decline.

This is especially significant in India and China, currently among the largest global suppliers of leather. The correlation between dairy and leather is expected to grow as dairy agribusiness is introducing industrialized-scale dairy factory farms across the regions.

However, could a shift in animal hide demand (and thereby herd size demand) be on the horizon?

Modern Meadows, a tissue engineering research company, has recently discussed their plans in creating the world’s first in-vetro leather. They project that a fully operational lab-produced leather facility could be functional by 2017.

If the leather industry reduces or eliminates their demand for animals’ hides, this will greatly decrease dairy industry profit margins, potentially reducing their drive towards larger herds and large-scale industrialization.

India and China’s leather industries (and leather industries the world over) could move from abattoirs and tanneries to scientific laboratories. Not only will this deter a growth in the dairy industry, but it will eliminate horrendous transportation and slaughter inflicted upon animals, many environmental toxic components to leather production, and hazardous working conditions for employees. How’s that for modernization?

Photo Courtesy Michael Foley Photography/Flickr