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Beyond the Bale : March 2017
POSITIVE START TO 2017 Wool prices have made a strong and welcome start to 2017 with the EMI reaching above 1,400c in each of the first six selling weeks of the year. This follows on from a positive 2016, during which the EMI was well above 1,200 cents for the entire year and pushing above 1,300c on several occasions during the second half of the year. We all hope that this upward trend continues so as to reward the hard work, passion and loyalty that woolgrowers have demonstrated towards the fibre. I believe the strong prices are due to a consistent and steady long-term shift in consumer sentiment towards the fibre and appreciation for its premium natural qualities. NEW STRAIN OF RABBIT CALICIVIRUS RELEASED A strain of rabbit calicivirus (RHDV1 K5) new to Australia is being released during the first week of March at more than 600 sites across the country. It will boost current biocontrol activity that is already impacting pest rabbit populations and help woolgrowers increase their productivity. Community organisations, Landcare groups and government land managers are participating in the national roll-out of the virus, as part of the RHD Boost project funded through the Invasive Animals CRC with additional funding from AWI. AWI has also funded a series of 10 short rabbit control videos to help ensure an effective rollout and provide information on conventional control methods such as warren fumigation and ripping. MERINO LIFETIME PRODUCTIVITY (MLP) PROJECT Thanks must go to the many ram breeders that nominated to be involved in the latest round of joinings in the MLP project. Sires from across six states have been selected GETTING ON WITH BUSINESS We are continuing with initiatives to help increase the demand for wool through investments in marketing and R&D – from farm to fashion. Stuart McCullough Chief Executive Officer Australian Wool Innovation to have their progeny assessed visually and objectively throughout life at four locations across Australia. An oversubscription of nominations has allowed for a wide range of genetics to be considered and helped to facilitate a robust sire selection process. Those ram breeders that missed out are encouraged to nominate for the Macquarie (Trangie, NSW) December 2017 and the New England (NSW) 2018 joinings. MLP site field days in March and April will showcase the first and second drops of progeny at Elders Balmoral (Vic), and the first drop of progeny for MerinoLink (Temora, NSW) and Pingelly (WA). Head to the MLP website www.wool.com/MLP for more information. WATER RESISTANT MERINO JACKETS Hundreds of woolgrowers across Australia have purchased and are proudly wearing the Woolmark Optim WR jacket that AWI has made available at cost price to wool levy payers – see back page. These jackets use the latest OptimTM technology by which Merino wool is woven into an immensely dense fabric that is resistant to water and wind, while retaining all of Merino wool’s fine properties, such as breathability. The 100 per cent Merino wool Optim fabric has also been commercially launched and is being used in both the fashion and outdoor markets. In this edition of Beyond the Bale, we report on two examples of brands that will be launching jackets made from the fabric to consumers later this year: Devold from Norway (see page 9) and Ibex from the USA (see page 10). MORE WOOL IN SPORTSWEAR A key part of AWI’s marketing strategy is to place a large focus on increasing Merino fibre’s presence in the sports and outdoor market. We are increasingly collaborating with leading manufacturers and brands in these sectors to promote the natural benefits of wool as a performance fibre. Reports from the latest trade shows at which AWI has exhibited indicate there is a strong interest in wool as a technical fibre. While there are many sports and outdoor brands now incorporating wool in their collections, there is still further significant potential for growth in demand for wool in these sectors and also in the increasing market for ‘athleisure’ – a term used for activewear that can be used for non-active and casual, everyday use. INTERNATIONAL WOOLMARK PRIZE The womenswear award and the menswear award of the 2016/17 International Woolmark Prize were both presented in January. The interest in these awards from fashion communities and media globally continues to be phenomenal which is important to help increase the global demand for Australian wool. It is helping put wool back on the agendas of fashion designers across the world, and consequently into retail stores for consumers to purchase. The winners have the opportunity to be stocked in the most important retailers around the globe including David Jones in Australia. THANKS TO DR PAUL SWAN Dr Paul Swan, AWI’s General Manager – Research, has resigned and will leave the company at the end of this month. I’ve known and worked with Paul since July 2001, when we both joined AWI, and I have the greatest respect for his service to the Australian wool industry. Whilst there is never a good time to lose a senior team member, especially one of Paul's calibre, it is probably as close to the right time for renewal given we have completed the company’s strategy documents and the industry is in such a healthy position. It will not be the end of Paul’s contribution to the Australian wool industry. He has advised that he intends to remain active, and continue to try and make a contribution to the industry I know he loves. UPFRONT 3
In the Shops - March 2017