Wool News

Keep informed with Wool News which covers a range of topics including latest innovations, advice to wool growers and industry news.

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4 December 2019

PGG Wrightson Wool November Update

This week The Country's Jamie Mackay catches up with PGG Wrightson's GM for wool Grant Edwards to talk about the wool industry.

Since their last chat, Edwards says that the market has been steady across the board for all wool types.

Wool auctions have been at the A and P shows in Hawkes Bay and Christchurch. These have resulted in strong volumes of wool and great to see support for the market.

The Christchurch auctions turned around about 7.2 million dollars of wool within 4.5 hours of selling. Edwards mentions that this is a great show piece for farmers to see their product selling

Traditionally at this time of year the bulk of fleece wool comes off as lambs are weaned off and shearing begins.

Mackay mentions that the harvest of the wool clip is spread out over 12 months, compared to the traditional mad rush September – January shearing season. Edwards agrees as there is a lot more second shearing now.

Wool preparation and contamination continues to be an issue as Mackay brings up the discounting of wool due to staining by permanent markers at scanning time.

Edwards adds that preparation is always key and that it comes down to the farmers paying attention to this at the time of shearing.

Mackay notes that it has been very wet in some parts of the country and this might result in yellowing and discolouration. Edwards adds that this could be the case, particularly with Southland and humidity in the North Island, but it will just be something that farmers will need to keep an eye on.

Mackay wraps up by mentioning that the IWTO (International Wool Textile Organization) conference is in Queenstown next week, and that it is great to have international wool partners come to New Zealand to discuss the future of wool.
29 October 2019

October Wool Report

This month Andy Thompson is joined by PGG Wrightson South Island wool procurement manager Rob Cochrane to discuss the current issues facing farmers and the stability of the wool market.

Things are looking up for the New Zealand Agricultural Show (formally known as the Canterbury A and P show), especially in reference to wool sales and the recent success of the Agricultural Show in the Hawkes Bay.

Thompson queried the current issues around contaminated wool.

Cochrane explained the issue was unscourable products such as chalk that appears to stain the wool, which can result in concerns around wool treatment and exports.

Growers needed to understand that some products are unscourable although most products do carry warnings.

Cochrane noted that added colour on the fleece must be removed at the point of shearing and disposed of.

Farmers and growers need to be aware of this to help keep the New Zealand standard of wool high.

If there are contaminants, this can cause major issues further down the track and in the market place.

Cochrane described the wool market as being stagnant over the last three years, however there is still plenty of demand for New Zealand crossbred wool, and currently the market seems stable in both the North and South Island.

Read more Wool News articles here.

Wool Blog_October 2019_Uncertainty
16 October 2019

Uncertainty Clouds Wool Market

Market influences are extremely difficult to predict and, there are often questions as to why the wider wool trade doesn’t pass on market intelligence to growers as an aid to grow the “right” wool, it is impossible to predict any movements with certainty. Sure there are sectors of the manufacturing industry who spend considerable resource searching and creating market requirement, however we all know that much of that can be dismantled in an instant with one swipe of a politician’s pen (or one click of a politician’s mouse) and the movement of a decimal point one place to the right!

The recent actions of probably our best two allies, plus our largest trading partner, meant New Zealand wool growers suffered even further downside from the already pathetically weak coarse wool market. Until recently fine wool growers had basked in sunshine for a couple of years while price improvements appeared to be unstoppable, however during the past couple of months they too have taken a beating as the China-US trade war has clouded the market causing confusion and real fears of recession.

It appears that China’s economy is still easing, as it has done over the past few years, with additional economic strain recently, due to increased tariffs imposed by the US, affecting the approximately 20% of exported goods from China to the US. With approximately 75% of Australian and 50% of New Zealand wool exported into China for processing, and at least 60% of finished woolen goods remaining within China, the outlook is murky. Pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong have affected their tourism and retail business with economists predicting a second consecutive quarter of negative growth. India reports a dramatic reduction in domestic spending with job losses in some industries. Singapore’s economy has also been affected by weaker global demand as well as the trade war and, although recent commentary suggests that countries like Japan, South Korea and Bangladesh have enjoyed slightly better economic performance during the second quarter of 2019, there is future uncertainty.

Australian wool testing data released at the end of July confirmed that wool volumes are certainly down compared to the previous year as anticipated, with July 2019 being back by around 5% to 6% compared to July 2018.

At time of writing Australian wool auctions continued to experience difficulty after prices had fallen quite dramatically during late August. As a result, it was not uncommon for around 30% of grower wool to be withdrawn from auction catalogues prior to sale day, with the remainder generally market sellers, however passing rates were still around 15%. Wool quality in Australia remained an issue with many lines measuring less than 30nkt (newtons per kilotex), indicating mixed processing length due to fibre tenderness, a direct result of drought. (As a comparison, several lines of merino catalogued Christchurch recently, tested between 45nkt and 53nkt). Amongst the negativity a positive comment from Australian brokers was that wool from non-mulesed flocks definitely drew good buyer attention.

From a NZ wool perspective there are many positives and we do have globally recognized points of difference. Despite extremely poor prices, with many oddment types very difficult to sell, generally our crossbred wool is still regarded as the best in the world and, therefore, we must pay attention to wool preparation to ensure that we keep it that way. Mulesing has been banned in NZ therefore our fine wools have an advantage over some of our counterparts. Wool is being re-invented as the fibre of choice within a wide range of products, some of which are completely new, and with increased reaction to plastic pollution globally, natural fibres are in a great space. NZ is still located where it’s always been on the planet. We’re a long distance from major markets and populations. I think we’re best to control what we can and forget about trying to control what we can’t.

That’s my view.

Rob Cochrane, Wool Procurement Manager
Wool News_September 2019_PFASs In Synthetic Carpet
2 October 2019

Wool News: PFASs in synthetic carpets further boosts sustainability of wool

Awareness of the potential health and environmental hazards associated with some chemicals used in commercial interiors is growing, further reinforcing the arguments for designers, manufacturers, and consumers to shift towards natural raw materials, such as wool.

Synthetic carpets may typically include a group of chemicals called perfluorinated or polyfluorinated alkyl substances, more commonly known as PFASs. While these are valued for their stain-repellent qualities, they are also known as ‘forever chemicals’ because they may never fully degrade in the environment. In some literature PFASs have been negatively associated with potential health problems in people.

Since the 1940s these ‘forever chemicals’ have been used in a wide range of products including carpets and furniture, as well as camping gear and non-stick cookware. They are now found in the air and water around the globe, as well as in the bodies of nearly everyone on earth.

As consumers and manufacturers become better educated regarding the possible negative characteristics of PFASs, we are likely to see a move away from synthetic carpets, and back towards wool.


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Wool News_September 2019_Maintaining Min VM Levels
2 October 2019

Wool News: Maintaining minimum Vegetable Matter levels

This pre-lamb shearing season, in both North and South Islands, vegetable matter (VM) contamination has noticeably increased. 

Several tests are performed on wool prior to sale. These use the core sample taken from each bale within a specific line or lot. They include measuring micron, yield, colour (except for merino), and VM, which is reported as a percentage of the weight of a greasy wool sample and is measured after the wool fibre has been dissolved, leaving any plant material. 

While a VM test between zero and 0.1 per cent is unlikely to attract any discount, as the percentage increases so do the discounts. This season many crossbred fleece lines, both full wool and second shear, have returned VM tests between 0.5 and 1.0 per cent, which negatively impacts pricing in an already difficult market. Fine wool clips, particularly from high country areas, traditionally carry higher VM readings due to the nature of the country grazed. However, because fine wool is generally processed via a worsted system, compared to the majority of crossbred types going through a woollen system, VM in fine wool can largely be removed during the carding, combing and gilling processes prior to spinning. 

However, removing as much VM as practically possible, in the wool shed, remains crucial. Good shed preparation ensures maximum market exposure.


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Linking Both Ends of the Chain
2 October 2019

Wool News: New Wool Integrity declaration coming soon

PGG Wrightson’s Wool Integrity programme, established in 2015, currently has some 1200 grower members and approximately 30 international brand partners. It provides assurances to the international market place by addressing concerns around global issues such as animal welfare and environmental sustainability. Wool quality, traceability, health, safety and wellbeing, and social compliance are also encompassed within the Wool Integrity programme.

For participating growers, PGG Wrightson through our-in house wool export company Bloch & Behrens, uses this differentiated marketing to add value to your wool clip without adding cost.

To ensure we can more effectively meet the ever-growing demands of the international marketplace, we will shortly contact all existing and new Wool Integrity growers to complete an updated Wool Integrity declaration.


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