Australian wool back on track

27 MAY 2011

Amid the dramatic improvement in wool prices over the past 12 months and the profitability of growing wool, Professor of Animal Production at CSU Peter Wynn has warned the industry to avoid complacency.

Amid the dramatic improvement in wool prices over the past 12 months and the profitability of growing wool, Professor of Animal Production at Charles Sturt University (CSU) Peter Wynn has warned the industry to avoid complacency.
 
The possible future directions for the Australian wool industry were outlined during a seminar on Wednesday 18 May organised by the EH Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation – an alliance of CSU and the NSW Department of Primary Industries.
 
The event brought together some 50 animal science students from CSU and the universities of Melbourne and Sydney with 30 local wool growers at the Wool Education Centre, Shear Outback in Hay in the western Riverina region of NSW.
 
Professor Peter Wynn. Professor Wynn said, “In order to sustain the consumption of the wonderful raw wool we produce in Australia it is critical that we communicate effectively with our wool buyers, processors and consumers.
 
“Responding instantly to changes in requirements at any of these levels is important in business: the perceptions of consumers of apparel can change overnight.  Inevitably blending of wool with other fibres will help boost consumption and the versatility of available products.”
 
“The Australian Wool Innovation Limited has carefully adjusted its budget to invest equally in research and marketing.  The ‘no finer feeling’ slogan has captured the imagination of the high fashion end of the market, while there is a major push to increase consumer awareness of the virtues of wool for middle income earners. The sports active market is also proving to be a profitable target for the industry with wool’s unique wearability attributes. 
 
“The Sheep CRC (Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation) has committed a major investment to the development of the fabric ‘comfort meter’, which has provided an extremely sensitive measure of the wearability of any fabric:. This has certainly accentuated the value of wool as the fibre of choice for flexible everyday wearing.
 
“While the wool broker provides an important conduit for the producer to market his wool profitably, this important middleman is increasing the range of services that are provided for the wool producer.  This may include advice on the use of future genetics, feeding and animal health regimes that impact on wool quality.  Responding to the requirements of the consumer right down the marketing chain will be important for the future success of the industry.
 
“The industry needs to adopt the latest in technologies associated with the molecular genetic revolution and with more practical issues such as mulesing and shearing. 
 
“It is also important that producers realise that they cannot always provide the very best for both the meat and apparel fibre marketplace.  The very best wool may not come from the meatiest animal.  It is a matter of choice for producers as to which way they want to focus their flock.
 
“One of the most important issues raised was the fact that the average age of wool producers in Australia was around 60 years.  With almost half of the audience at the seminar in Hay under the age of 25 at this symposium, it is hoped that many innovative young minds will be entering the industry over the coming decade.”

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