Wool industry endures one hit after another

Wool industry endures one hit after another

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It is estimated that the recent cyber attack cost the industry in excess of $70 million. Photo by Shutterstock.

It is estimated that the recent cyber attack cost the industry in excess of $70 million. Photo by Shutterstock.

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There is no doubt Australian wool growers are demonstrating unprecedented levels of resilience.

Aa

There is no doubt Australian wool growers are demonstrating unprecedented levels of resilience, as the industry endures one hit after another.

Drought, floods, fires, cyber attacks, global virus outbreaks, over-corrections in the market, animal activists launching worldwide public relations campaigns based on misinformation - the list grows.

One Tasmanian wool grower told me that her family's level of frustration over their business being undermined by factors outside their control, was at tipping point.

"We continue to do our job to the best of our ability - and that's produce the world's best wool - but it's the rest of the supply chain that is letting us down and compromising our ability to achieve the best possible returns and brand growth."

It is estimated that the recent cyber attack cost the industry in excess of $70 million.

The widespread drought across mainland Australia and dry conditions in southern and eastern Tasmania, coupled with the devastating bushfires, have also compounded the impact on Australia's wool industry.

And as coronavirus continues to spread largely unchecked across key wool buying and processing markets, such as China and Italy, mills remain closed or are re-opening with a skeleton team to deliver vastly reduced production.

There is no doubt the ongoing fallout from the coronavirus epidemic will impact all of us - but to what degree remains unclear.

The global economy has taken a huge hit, with passenger car sales dropping 80 per cent in China, global airline revenue is expected to be down by up to $113 billion this year, freight rates continue to fall and multiple countries are bracing for recession.

So, what does this mean for the wool industry?

Buyers continue to reiterate that demand remains strong for quality wool and that despite all the global turmoil, the industry should be somewhat protected.

This was backed up by exporters who told me that stocks of greasy wool in China continue to be low.

From our launch of Natural Tasmanian Wool in Shanghai in December and our tour of many China-based wool warehouses, it was clear that orders will need to continue to replenish stock levels.

The market tells us that there is no need for panic, instead, we as an industry must focus on uniting and supporting each other.

As another Tasmanian wool grower mentioned, "this is wool's time".

"Consumers are starting to see through the lies that have been pedalled by extremists, they understand that wool growers are committed to sustainable and ethical production, and that wool is a truly natural fibre.

"We will endure all the external factors being thrown at us, stay true to what we do best on-farm and emerge stronger than ever."

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