The luxury firm Hermès plans to build Australia’s biggest crocodile factory farm, which would increase production from 4,000 crocodiles in its second year to 50,000 in the fifth year.
They bought a former horticultural farm near the town of Darwin, through the PRI Farming company. At their side to help them: the professional Mick Burns, who is amongst the biggest players in the lucrative crocodile industry. Together, they plan to breed nearly 50,000 saltwater crocodiles, all of which will be farmed for meat and skin products. The leather is used in the production of handbags. These handbags are worth around 20,000 to 30,000 euros, even on the French second-hand website “Vestiaire Collectives“.
To undertake such a project, they spent 33.8 million euros. The farm will include an egg incubation laboratory, hatchery, production pens and open farm, and refrigerated food storage areas. About 30 people will be employed on site.
Australia or the land of crocodiles?
Australia is the world leader in the saltwater crocodile trade, and the Northern Territory is the nation’s largest producer. French fashion labels Hermès and Louis Vuitton own or control a large majority of crocodile farms in the north of the country. There, the reptile is at the heart of a real business. As ABC recalls, more than 24,600 crocodile skins were exported from the region for a value of 22.5 million euros, from 2018 to 2019. Moreover, a report by insights company Ernst & Young in 2017 estimated that the statewide crocodile industry, including farming and tourism, was worth $107 million.
The announcement has caused a stir on Twitter, as animal activists label the move ‘revolting’ and ‘unnecessary’, citing how other luxury brands have moved away from using fur and leather in recent years.