Superfine wool slumps overseas

NEW England superfine wool producers are battling on against the continuing slump in the global market.
Nanjing Night Net

A tough economic climate has led to a drop in demand for superfine wool, defined as having a micron count of 18.5 or finer, in the Italian, European and Chinese markets.

Uralla wool producer Leo Blanch from “Westvale” said the superfine wool market had suffered since experiencing a fall of around 500 cents last September.

“I find that the wool market is generally good with clips and cardings,” he said.”The ones that are suffering are the superfine spinner wool producers. The market did experience a good period between Christmas and September last year, then the wheels fell off.”

Mr Blanch said the market downturn was disheartening but he had seen numerous market slumps and rises in his years as a producer.

“It’s tough, especially with increased costs of things like fertiliser, electricity and fuel,” he said. “We’re resilient people and, at this time, we are experiencing better seasons so that’s one good thing.”

Fellow producer Gerard Stephen from Warrane, Armidale said premium prices for superfine wool had disappeared in the face of a market oversupply of wools with a micron count of 18 or below.

“Superfine sheep don’t cut six kilograms of wool so that’s why we need the premium prices,” he said.

“At the moment there’s not much difference in the prices for 18 and 21 micron wools and that’s wrong.

“We should be 300-400 cents above the price for 21 micron wool.

Mr Stephen said the tough times had caused many producers to make the switch to prime lambs and cattle.

“If there’s another year of lower prices, you’ll see a lot more specialist wool producers leaving the industry,” he said.

Mr Stephen said greater demand in the Chinese market was probably the Australian superfine wool industry’s best chance of seeing an increase in prices.

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