Beef lovers aren’t the only ones with sticker shock from the shrinking U.S. cattle herd. Fewer cows also mean tighter supply of hides used in luxury-car upholstery, handbags, shoes and Anita Dungey’s dog collars.
“The last couple of years have been horrendous,” said Dungey, the president of Auburn Leathercrafters, a collar and leash maker in Auburn, New York. Her leather costs rose 83 percent in two years to $8.25 a foot. “It’s been hard to keep up,” forcing Auburn to boost prices by as much as 10 percent, the most in at least three decades, she said.