Alexander Zakharov: Mongolians are allowing the value of their camel fur to drop


ALEX1
By B.BYAMBADORJ
An interview with Alexander Zakharov, a Russian businessman who exports camel fur from Mongolia to Russia. Translated from “Duriin Sonin” newspaper.
What are the difficulties you face when exporting fur from Mongolia?
I export camel fur products to Russia in partnership with a Mongolian woman, Yo. Odonchimeg. I have worked in the business for four years and I notice how the decisions by the Government and administration affect the operations in this business.
Russian people like camel fur but unfortunately there are a high number of fake camel fur products being exported to the Russian market. The camel fur market is overwhelmed with fake fur products made in China; made mostly of cloth and fabric and painted to mimic a real camel fur.
We brought camel fur socks that were being sold in Moscow to Mongolia, and did an analysis of them. The results showed that they consisted of only 2.9 percent camel wool and the rest was made of materials from other animals, mostly sheep wool.
This kind of product is being exported to Russia en masse. It is not possible to make fur products from camels in the Middle East, camel fur products are found nowhere but in Mongolia. Because camels live in a relatively cold environment their fur is very warm while still being thin. Mongolians themselves are letting the value of their camel fur drop.
Is it fair to say that fake camel fur products are negatively affecting Russian consumers’ opinion about camel fur products?
Yes, that is the biggest difficulty we face. Russian people know that there are clothes made from camel fur. But since they are used to clothes made from fake camel fur, they do not know how good it actually is.
Mongolia has too many factories that produce fake camel fur products. For Mongolia, the biggest camel fur market is in Russia – but because there are too many fake products being exported to Russia, consumers already have the wrong ideas about camel fur products. They believe that camel fur clothes are uncomfortable. They say that it often has an unwelcome odor and causes various allergies.
Yo. Odonchimeg and I have spent considerable time explaining to our partners that camel fur is very soft, odorless, and is not artificially coloured.  Once Russian consumers are exposed to genuine camel fur, they will begin rejecting fake camel fur.
What actions need to be taken to introduce genuine camel fur to the Russian fur market?
Mongolians prioritize cashmere and forget about camel fur.
The world economy will not be as steady in the next few years, and it will be a lot more difficult to export fur products to Russia.
Even so, camel fur has a lot of potential in the future; a huge market is waiting for it. But Mongolia is failing to take any steps towards this great opportunity. I think the time has come for the Mongolian administration to begin protecting camel fur products and decreasing the production of fake camel products before it is too late.
It would not be wise to sit back and stay silent. Mongolian inactivity and lack of attention to its camel fur products will result in Russians not coming to Mongolia for camel fur. Many people will be left jobless.
There is not a single genuine camel fur product at Narantuul Market. Even Made in Mongolia, a store mostly visited by foreign travelers has so many fake camel fur products. I am surprised and concerned that the administration and organizations remain silent on this issue.
Where do you purchase your products?
I purchase genuine camel fur from Goyo and have them made into clothes. If I don’t specify the exact material to use, clothes producers will use cloths and other materials from everywhere to make clothes and claim they are of camel fur.
Do you export cashmere products too?
Yes. Mongolia has also been unsuccessful at introducing their cashmere to the world. Aside from Goyo and Gobi, Mongolians fail to unite and work together in promoting cashmere products.
I go to exhibitions in Moscow to look at Mongolian cashmere. There is a Goyo exhibition stand and a Gobi stand not far away – because of this separation their products do not attract as many people as they could have if they were together in a larger stand under the name Mongolia.
On the other hand, there is an Italian stand and every cashmere company from Italy is there. Mongolia should be known and famous worldwide for its cashmere and camel fur.
Lately, Mongolians are working well to promote their cashmere products, but as I have said, there is still a lot of work needed to introduce genuine Mongolian camel fur to the world market.



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