Alligator Market Recovering - KLFY News 10

Alligator Market Recovering

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Louisiana is one of the nation's top alligator producers in the industry. But in recent years, the demand for the skins declined.

However, those in the industry say alligator skins are back on the rise nationally and internationally, a sign the economy is improving.

"The demand for alligator skins really kind of depends on the fashion industry worldwide and the economic situation," said Mark Shirley, a regent for the LSU AgCenter in Vermilion Parish.

For those who can afford it, alligator skins are a luxury fashion item.

The alligator industry in Louisiana took a major hit following the financial crisis.

But one exotic goods company in Lafayette says the demand is growing.

"The demand is picking up," said Mark Staton, the owner of Mark Staton, Co. "It's definitely picked up over the last few years since the financial crisis a few years ago. Each year, the demand for skins has increased."

But Staton's business is an anomaly, since the bulk of domestic skins are sold to tanneries internationally.

The skins are used to make shoes, handbags, and belts, and then sold by high-end designers at very high prices.

Farm raised alligators like the size of this one are in higher demand in the marketplace because of their higher quality skin and their scale pattern.

But with a financial crisis looming in Europe, whether the demand for alligator skins will stick is questionable.

"It is primarily an international market there is great concern about what's going on in Europe at the moment that could change our markets a whole lot," said Staton. "And of course, a lot of it seems to go to China and the Orient and that's strong, but one never knows."

Shirley said, "It does appear the market is improving in Europe and Asia

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