The 157 International Fur Auction, the first in the 2002-2003 fur season, took place in Saint Petersburg on December 7-9. According to Deputy Director of the Soyuzpushnina Exhibition Union Victor Chipurny more than 350 thousand skins were exhibited in total, including 220 thousand skins from specially bred animals. The whole collection was worth around USD 7-8 million. The exhibits were provided by 65 different Russian suppliers.
The collections of 25 000 sable skins were sold out, the average price of a skin reaching USD 95 and the top price USD 185. According to Director of the St. Petersburg branch of Soyuzpushnina Mikhail Lebedev, the average price of sable at the auction was 10-15% higher than that at the auction of December 2001.
The auction also included 116 thousand mink skins (only 25% of which were sold) and 75 thousand arctic fox skins, although these were later withdrawn from auction. Soyuzpushnina experts said this was due to the unfavourable market conditions and also the fact that the auction in Saint Petersburg was held before the first auction in Helsinki, which traditionally sets the prices on arctic fox skins.
The auction also included squirrel, ermine, raccoon, Siberian weasel, fox, nutria, wolverene and polecat.
40 purchasers took part at the auction, including, for the first time, 10 Russian firms which purchased fur for the Russian market, mostly mink. The sable was sold entirely to the international market.
The Soyuzpushnina management values the world fur market in 2002 at USD 1.2 million. In 2002, Russia has produced about 2.6-2.7 million mink skins, 300 000 fox and arctic fox skins and 25 000 sable skins. World production of arctic fox skins is estimated at 4.2 million and mink skins at 30.5 million.
The December auction is usually on a smaller scale than the January and April auctions when the industry is at its peak. However, the Soyuzpushnina management believes that this was the biggest December auction for the last 5 years.