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Overview of demand for Merino and Crossbred wools by China

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The Woolmark Company monthly report outlines the situation in China regarding Merino and Crossbred wools. The report points out that the overall sentiment in China remains positive, although there are some users who indicate that Merino wools finer than 19 micron are at “too high a level” and therefore are killing off demand in some sense. The 19.5 to 23 micron brackets remain price sensitive within the current ranges, but are “better priced” compared to the finer Merino.

Demand however, was described as steady. It has been revealed that the upcoming new government uniforms for Chinese Rail, Police, Army Traffic, Transport and Schools would be reverting to 21 and 22.6 micron from 18.5-19.5.

The Army, Police and Transport would also increase synthetic percentage and the 2018 uniform would be 80:20 or even 70:30 wool: synthetic blends, which will be down from the 90:10 blends of last year.

The Rail and School uniforms would remain at 100% wool, but would move from the 18.5 micron of last year to 21 micron. The demand for crossbred wool remains at lower levels for all wool broader than 30 micron, but the large volumes of previously held stocks are being depleted due to some clever blending of synthetics back into the wool yarns. However, the want for crossbred wools finer than 29.5 micron is currently completely different, with a good demand for fresh supply.

The 27 to 29.5 micron wools mainly are produced in, and come from, Australia, so most of the Chinese demand prefers Australia as the supplier. Other producing nations unfortunately are not picking up the same levels of either price or the demand but Australian growers of those wools are the recipient of any requirements. Crossbred wools of 27 microns and finer have been blended with much finer Merino (in some cases as fine as 16 micron), a technique that arose to create the “fake fur” blend. This mini boom for “fake fur” has seemingly waned somewhat, but Chinese traders and top makers have learnt from this technique to use “wide micron ranges” to create the final product.

June 2017 – China wool top exports to Europe was higher in value in the past 12 months, but significantly, the volume has decreased year on year. The double faced fabrics that were being reported six months ago as being on a fast decline, is in fact remaining as a best seller, both to retailers and garment makers. This is evidenced through the high prices still being paid for carding types of all descriptions.

Due to high stock levels and low prices/margins in the crossbred business, a number of first and second stage processors had converted their machinery to be able to accept Merino wools. This can be a costly change and is a very physical process with the mills’ machinery. Due to this changeover, many traditional Merino users now find that a newly created “machinery demand” has been created whereby more Merino is required just to keep machines running, hence forming a part of the dearer Merino and cheaper crossbred market that has arisen.

Throughout China, there is an absolute majority of influential companies all singing from the same hymn book – and that is the need for major activities around promotion and education of not just the consumer, but also of the younger generations and in particular school and college students. China appears to have quickly developed a social justice responsibility in their day to day textile activities and feel for further growth of all the chain, a push to further promote and educate all things wool.

Source: AWI

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