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Australian wool broker takes the next step into manufacturing

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For decades the wool industry has watched as its manufacturing move offshore; now one of Australia’s largest wool buyers is reversing that trend because it thinks tourists from Asia will want to buy wool here.

The Australian Wool Network has just launched its new factory on the outskirts of Melbourne in Victoria, which is four times larger than its previous facility.

Managing director of Australian Wool Network, John Colley, said that although the core business of his company was still buying wool, he also saw manufacturing and selling products was a necessary step.

“As we went around the bush and talked to most of our woolgrower clients, there’s still a tendency for them not to know where their wool is going, what it’s being used for, and with the shrinkage in the wool industry, it’s become one of the reasons that people are leaving, because they just don’t know enough,” he said.

As part of the factory expansion, the company was also boosting its traceability program, which lets buyers see where their wool was produced and watch video interviews with the farmers who grew it.

“We’re doing it on a regional basis, so we’re getting wool from a region, and producing video links that run back to that particular area,” Mr Colley said.

“People can see right through the chain, wool can be traced right through and that’s something that consumers are becoming more and more aware of.”

Woolgrower Christine Berry from Kangaroo Island in South Australia was part of the new program, and said she believed wool should be no different from other commodities like wine, which was marketed on a regional basis.

“We need to value-add our wool,” she said.

“As a grower it’s lovely to know where your wool goes, and it’s nice to know it’s ending up in garments that we’ll be able to see.”

Source : ABC Rural

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