Saga Furs

Saga Furs is a Finnish fur brand and fur auction house, which products are marketed as a responsible and ethical choice. However, fur farms producing Saga fur are regular fur farms that share the considerable animal welfare problems inherent in fur production.

Saga fur is neither “ethical” nor “animal welfare friendly” but the product of conventional fur farming practices which have been banned on ethical and welfare grounds in several countries.

Nordic fur trade

Next to using ‘ethical branding’ and ‘greenwashing’ strategies for fur produced in Nordic countries, Saga Furs has ambiguously been very active as well in countries as China that have limited animal welfare legislation. In a recent report ‘Case Saga Furs. Nordic fur trade -marketed as responsible business’ (2015) Fur Free Alliance SagaFursmembers NOAH (Norway) and Animalia (Finland) reveal Saga’s work as a marketing campaign combating increased ethical awareness and promoting the use of fur worldwide.

Welfare certification

Saga Furs’ promotional material highlights the different certification systems which are used for fur. These systems claim to make a difference for animal welfare. However, the various certification systems developed by Saga Furs, as Origin Assured and WelFur, do not include requirements that exceed the existing Finnish animal welfare legislation in any meaningful way. The Finnish Veterinary Association stated that the current animal welfare legislation is minimum-level legislation and that following it does not guarantee the welfare of animals.

‘Fur marketing should not give the misleading impression that certification would guarantee a better level of animal welfare than the minimum required by legislation.’

Finnish Veterinary Association (2014)

Animal welfare problems

In both official inspections and investigations done by animal interest groups and the media serious health and welfare problems have come to light on a large proportion of fur farms in all the main Saga countries – as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. These farms included certified farms and farms belonging to key figures in the Finnish and Norwegian fur industries.

‘Investigations on Nordic fur farms revealed a series of problems including infected wounds, missing limbs from biting incidents, eye infections, bent feet, mouth deformities, overweight foxes, cannibalism of dead siblings or offspring; rotting corpses left in cages with living animals, stereotypical behaviour and stress-related symptoms.’

Nordic fur trade – marketed as responsible business (2015). Read the full report.

Fur bans

Saga Furs claims to be proud that their fur comes from countries enforcing fur-animal welfare legislation, “from closely monitored farms in the EU or Norway”. But high levels of animal welfare legislation regarding fur animals have in fact led to phasing out fur farming in several countries. Some countries previously producing Saga fur, such as Denmark and Sweden, are now phasing out fox farming because of the ethical and animal welfare problems involved.

Political debate

The production of fur is associated with considerable environmental costs. A large proportion of both the fashion industry and the general public in Saga countries are opposed to fur farming and the fate of fur farming is a matter of political debate. Although the fur industry lobbies European politicians and provides financial support to allies, the political pressure on fur farming is growing.

Mink farming in Sweden ©Joanne McArthur/Djurattsalliansen
Saga Furs animal health and welfare problems
Saga Furs animal health and welfare problems
Mink farming
Saga Furs animal health and welfare problems
Saga Furs animal health and welfare problems

Header photo: Joanne McArthur/We Animals

  • joh vinding Joh Vinding, Anima (Denmark)

    "The more consumers learn about the atrocities animals go through on fur farms or when caught in traps, the more interested companies become in going fur free. I’m convinced many more fashion giants will join our program in the years to come - it’s simply good business to do so."

  • NicolevanGemert Nicole van Gemert, Fur for Animals (The Netherlands)

    "Nobody is in need of fur to stay warm nowadays. Fur is a unnecessary luxury product for which animals are leading miserable lives and are killed in a very cruel way."

  • nicki Nicki Brooks, Respect for Animals (UK)

    "Fur farming is not like any other form of agriculture. Mink and fox are inherently unsuited to intensive farming conditions. They are still essentially wild animals and to keep them in this way is extremely cruel."

  • Norwegian Consumer Ombudsman, on the use of the Origin Assured label

    "As also shown in the name of the label scheme, it concerns the origin - and not that standards and regulations are actually met."

  • Norwegian Veterinary Association (DNV),

    "The animal welfare in fur farming has shown little improvement over the last 15 years, despite the use of disproportionally large official resources both on research and inspection."

  • Sanna Hellström, former chairperson of Finnish Veterinary Association

    "At a zoo a fox is required to have an enclosure of 600 square meters with the opportunity to dig, and minks must have the opportunity to swim. In farming the space requirements for the same animals are a few square meters."