• Reindeer Markets in the Circumpolar North: An Economic Outlook

      Humphries, John (Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of Alaska., 2007)
      The commercial production of caribou and reindeer meat is relatively small; it is estimated that less than 175,000 animals are harvested annually. Reindeer husbandry or commercial caribou hunts occur in seven circumpolar countries: Canada, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States yet total production is still very low. Properly processed reindeer meat is seen as a high-end luxury or specialty meat in all those countries except Russia. In addition to hide, both male and female reindeer produce horns, which are valuable and can be sold for between 4 and 14 dollars per pound. Overall, reindeer herding and caribou hunting has had wildly varying levels of success, although they seem to be struggling across the globe. This paper provides an economic analysis of the reindeer industry, so we can better understand its challenges, successes, and structure, examine the total size and production of the market, and evaluate the socio-economic tradeoffs between subsistence and commercial harvests. This paper examines the reindeer markets in Canada, Finland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, and Alaska, though most emphasis is placed on North America. Russia has been left out of this analysis, due to the scale and complexity of reindeer herding in Russia and the difficulty of obtaining information on the subject. The first part of this paper will estimate total global production and will examine international trade and price discrepancies. Then three forms of herding and two forms of hunting in commercial operations will be reviewed. The current market structures in North American countries will be examined next. The fourth part of this paper will examine the state of the industry and the factors that affect its production choices on a global level. Finally, the choice between subsistence and commercial production will be examined from an economic viewpoint.