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Beyond the Bale : February 2010
When I reflect on the past year, and contemplate the outlook for this new year, two powerful things provide me with optimism for the future of the Australian wool industry. First, there is the desire for environmentally friendly products, which is rapidly gaining momentum among global consumers. With its excellent natural, biodegradable and sustainable credentials, wool is well-positioned to respond to this eco-trend. This is not just a passing fad, this trend is likely to impact all categories within the apparel segment in the near future, including the market for luxury fibres like Australian Merino wool. Scientists have tried for many years -- unsuccessfully -- to recreate in a synthetic fibre the natural properties of Merino wool: breathability, superior drape, low wrinkle, durability, performance and style. But few fibres are as wonderful as Australian Merino wool to wear, which is why the fibre is so highly sought-after by many of the world's leading manufacturers, designers and retailers. The issue of climate change is also beginning to influence consumer purchasing behaviour. In recognition of this trend and wool's potential contribution to reducing global warming, AWI has established the Wool Carbon Alliance, a group of international and Australian wool industry representatives working to market the natural benefits of wool as a solution to the environmental challenges of climate change. It is also encouraging to see the launch last month of a campaign by HRH The Prince of Wales urging consumers to embrace wool as the natural fibre for a sustainable future. AWI is working on The Prince's campaign with the International Wool Textile Organisation and the British Wool Marketing Board. This significant campaign fits in perfectly with AWI's marketing efforts, in which we sell the benefits of wool as a natural fibre. The world has turned a corner and producers and consumers are recognising natural fibres' importance and benefits. Consumers can buy authentic, natural Australian wool products with confidence, knowing that it is the preferred option both for themselves and the planet. The second powerful thing that gives me confidence for the future of the Australian wool industry is the young people working in the industry. I have met many of them during the past year, all along the wool pipeline, and I have to tell you their optimism is infectious. This next generation is always looking to the future. In December, a cross-section of young woolgrowers from all states gathered at a two-day industry forum in Sydney to offer AWI some fresh ideas for the years ahead. Topics of discussion included the profitability and reliability of growing wool, the fibre's opportunities in a carbon economy, on-farm R&D priorities, better communication and new marketing initiatives to lift global demand for wool. On the second day of the forum, the thoughts and ideas of these next-gen growers were shared with a larger audience UPFRONT 3 The things that give me optimism of woolgrowers who added their wisdom and experience. I think all growers, young and old, left the forum at the end of the event feeling more optimistic for the future of wool. I firmly believe the younger generation in the industry wholeheartedly shares the older generation's passion for our great natural fibre. In this edition of Beyond the Bale there are stories of optimism featuring younger people, from woolgrowers around Australia to designers, communicators and retailers. Finally, I would like to thank all woolgrowers who voted in WoolPoll 2009. The positive vote for two per cent will enable AWI to continue its current momentum and focus on the future, to sell more wool and contribute to a better outlook for current and future generations of Australian woolgrowers. I am delighted to see the healthy gains in the wool market made at the beginning of this year. I hope these gains, caused by increasing demand from overseas buyers, will continue throughout the year. We are working hard with our global partners in key international markets. You have my commitment and my team's to continue rebuilding global demand for this wonderful natural fibre and reignite confidence in the long-term viability of Australia's wool industry. Wool has a great future if we all move forward together. Brenda McGahan CEO Young woolgrowers who provided AWI with fresh ideas for its future direction at an AWI forum in December.
September November 2009