Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • In some leather supply chains, production is vertically integrated (meaning a single company owns the farm, slaughterhouse, and tannery). In other leather supply chains, different processes are fulfilled by separate entities, with upstream entities potentially spanning multiple countries. Supply chain mapping and discovery to understand the degree to which a given leather supply chain is vertically integrated or more dispersed is therefore a critical first step in traceability system design.
  • Labor rights risks have been noted at multiple tiers of leather production, including animal husbandry, slaughterhouse, and tanning nodes. Traceability solutions will ideally account for all nodes of production, including informal worksites. 
  • Within the leather production processes, especially within tanneries, leather is subjected to multiple (chemical) transformation processes and aggregation. Traceability solutions should take these chemical processes and points of aggregation into account.  
  • Given these factors, leading guidance for traceability in leather supply chains suggests traceability systems that a) allow for traceability of batches of hides or of individual hides, depending on supply chain needs, and b) are capable of identifying the slaughterhouse of origin and transactions between the slaughterhouse and finished leather product.1Leather Supply Chain Mapping & Traceability Guidelines. Leather Impact Accelerator and Textile Exchange, 2021,

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Child labor cited by U.S. government

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Risk of forced labor or trafficking in persons cited by other source

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

Complex/opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities

  • Labor risks have been identified in production of finished leather and manufacturing of leather goods.

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Leather Goods Production

Agents/traders buy finished leather from slaughterhouses and tanneries, then sell it to manufacturing facilities with the potential presence of importers/exporters as intermediaries.12Business Process Analysis for Sustainability and Circularity in the Leather Value Chain. UNECE, 2021, Manufacturing of leather goods, such as leather handbags and harnesses, may be done by brands or outsourced to industrial suppliers.13usiness Process Analysis for Sustainability and Circularity in the Leather Value Chain. UNECE, 2021, At this node, different components of leather goods, such as belts, handles, and bodies of leather handbags, are produced through various processing steps, which may include leather cutting, splitting, skiving, gluing, edge folding, stitching, stamping, fastening, and painting.14Kongprasert, Nattapong. A methodology for the selection of manufacturing processes based on the design of the Manufacturing Matrix. 2012. The components are then assembled into final goods and sold to retailers and wholesalers for distribution.15Agricultural Commodity Supply Chains Trade, Consumption and Deforestation. The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2016,  


Trade and Transport of Finished Leather

Wholesale and Retail Distribution

Associated Upstream Goods with Labor Risk

The production of raw leather, a primary input for leather goods, has been associated with forced labor and child labor.

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors

Textiles Apparel and Luxury Goods

Leather Goods/Accessories are associated with the Textiles, Apparel, and Luxury Goods sector.  

Top Global Countries

  1. China
  2. Italy
  3. France
  4. Germany
  5. Vietnam
  6. India
  7. Netherlands
  8. Cambodia
  9. Spain
  10. Singapore

Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Leather Goods