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Demand keeps Australian wool prices up

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Prices for Australian wool have been at a record high and this is where it will stay according to many industry players. New and innovative uses in Merino wool, in areas of automation, leisure, and sportswear, underpin demand.


China’s unstoppable appetite for Merino wool is adding to these higher prices. And although some weeks prices may dip, as one exporter mentioned, this is more to do with domestic Australian wool industry anomalies such as one-off poor quality wool offered on a given day, an inability by buyers to secure credit, but not a drop in demand.


Australian wool prices increased by almost 30% compared with last year. At the end of 2017 the EMI reached 1760ac/kg for the first time. The highest increases were for wools of 16.5 – 22 mic. 1,919,447 bales were offered for sale with a clearance rate of 92.7%. Main buyers were Techwool (231,591), Fox & Lillie (149,470), Tianyu (75,012), PJ Morris (71,666), Australian Merino Exports (64,716).


China imported 238.4 mil kg of wool, an increase of 4.5% from the previous year. China wool top exports were 27.5 million, 2.4% down. This indicates that an increased demand is in the domestic market.


‘It is all about China’, says Robert Wang China manger at AWTA. ‘Domestic consumption of woollen products in China has grown dramatically in the last five years. If previously most processing was for export, today at least 50% is for domestic use, and this is growing year by year.


‘Consumers in China were previously driven by price, but today quality and colour comes first. This is mainly due to the average Chinese consumer having a greater disposable income. Unemployment is low, salaries have been rising, and the government has introduced guaranteed super schemes (pension), so people will have a greater security of income and more money to spend.


‘I have just come back from Mongolia, a remote part of the world, but even there most ladies are wearing woollen coats’, says Robert Wang. ‘And this is not Beijing or Shanghai, consumers everywhere appreciate quality, and wool fits their needs perfectly.’


The introduction of new products in China such as fake fur and double sided fabric are still doing reasonably well but at the very high end, using mostly 17 µm wool.  Corporate uniform production is still increasing every year and although wool only represents 15% of fibre consumed, the volumes are so large that even 15% represents huge quantities of wool.


Steady demand from buyers in China, Europe, and India will see wool prices firm for some time to come.


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