Researcher Olli Hietanen: Future of the fur industry is full of opportunity

19 February of 2014 by

The fur industry has enormous potential provided that the players themselves take the initiative to explore and realize them, says Olli Hietanen from the University of Turku, and who led the fur industry’s first future workshop.

Hietanen urged some one hundred industry representatives who attended the workshop to break out of their traditional thinking patterns and “forget about” the fur itself during an innovation process.

“The industry is also controversial and coupled to negative associations that make it interesting and challenging. Its core, however, is a global and profitable business that is lacking in other, traditional sectors of animal husbandry. The industry provides employment and fur-production entities compose an intricate eco-system that can be used to one’s advantage.”

Hietanen pointed out that there has been little done to exploit potential by-products from farming because all focus has been on the end product, pelts. A vision of the future could include a one-hundred-per cent-recovery-based bio-economic sector that utilizes new techniques and robotics, and enters into a network of other industries.

“It’s not just what you do, it’s also important to think about how you do things.”

In addition to new business opportunities, Hietanen reminded people not to forget the core business, the sale of pelts, which is sensitive to adjustments as a result of turbulence in the international economic arena.

“At the centre we see unpredictable changes inside China, which is a large and growing market. Production facilities increase in size, but without a doubt there is room for smaller entities that concentrate on top quality, specialized products and craftsmanship. It would be possible to customize production for the consumer demographic in which price is not an issue.”

As he thanked the participants for being open and receptive, Hietanen said he believes the workshop could provide a foundation for new, feasible business models.  “You must avoid thinking about any threats because the biggest obstacle is between the ears.”

In closing, Hietanen offered: “It’s not unthinkable that we might be eating fox meat in the future. Why not? We live in an age when we will soon be able to fabricate food on a printer.”

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