Make your clip competitive

Wool buyers taking no risks in tight wool market

Sheep
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Buyers taking no risks as wool market pressures increase.

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Off the back of the recent drought, stumbling prices and high pass-in rates, woolgrowers are facing uncertain territory.

To add to these pressures, more than ever wool buyers are focussing on looking to minimise their own risks.

According to AWEX woolclasser registrar Fiona Raleigh, wool buyers are not prepared to take risks, every dollar that they spend is important.

"They too are in an uncertain position, so if they are going to buy wool they are going to buy wool with confidence and confidence comes from the way that wool is prepared and declared," Ms Raleigh said.

"Producers need to put them into the position of 'wanting to buy'."

The simple thing for woolgrowers and classers to do is follow the AWEX Code of Practice (COP), Ms Raleigh said.

"Preparing wool for sale which is destined for a number of markets and different uses is a complex process," she said.

"When there is that uncertainty or flexibility, if you prepare wool according to the COP it opens up opportunities for you to sell at any time to anyone.

"Buyers understand the COP, it has been put together with the processor in mind, therefore wool that is prepared for the COP will meet their needs - they will understand what each line means and how it is going to perform for them."

She said the quality and consistency of the product is going to be at the top of every buyer's list.

"I know a lot of growers often think quality is bright, white wool with high tensile strength from well selected rams and bloodlines," Ms Raleigh said.

"That is quality for a grower, but quality for a wool processor is wool that is predictable and will perform well."

The COP is a quality assurance scheme, it is about making sure growers put in place practices that give a predictable outcome, she said.

"You can have a quality bale of dags which is a bale of dags described correctly of the right weight and meets the needs of a dags purchaser," Ms Raleigh said.

"In the wool industry, quality is a low risk uniform product that meets the customers needs, and this can be a bale of dags."

On a global perspective, Ms Raleigh said it is imperative growers prepare a consistent product for the market if they are to remain competitive.

"Australian wool is competing on a global market so it is really important that the Australian wool industry remains competitive," she said.

"We are not to let our standards slip. If a buyer is looking to purchase a certain type of wool with certain specifications we've got NZ and South Africa doing similar things so it's important that we maintain our level of preparation."

When it comes to uniformity in clip preparation, according to Ms Raleigh it is about looking at what sheep make up that mob.

"It is really important as a basis when making those lines of wool that are predictable to the processor's needs," Ms Raleigh said.

"One of the current issues that we are coming across with drought affected wool is dusty backs.

"Producers are often faced with 'do you remove dusty backs or do you leave them in?' These are the sort of decisions growers might make in certain situations."

She said moving into the spring after the drought and better rainfall, high levels of vegetable matter (VM) may be an issue.

"That may mean those on the table need to dip in a little bit further when skirting to prepare the fleece wool to yield better," Ms Raleigh said.

"Yield is a really important aspect.

"Even though we get paid on a clean basis, the exporter needs to factor in the yield of wool to make it economical and viable for them to purchase that wool for containerising and sending."

She strongly suggested never having a predetermined skirting in mind.

"I think the term 'skirt lightly' is a bit of a dangerous recommendation," Ms Raleigh said.

"We skirt to the merits of each fleece to provide uniformity within that fleece."

The story Make your clip competitive first appeared on Farm Online.

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