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Beyond the Bale : February 2010
February 2010 BEYOND THE BALE SELLING MORE WOOL Agroup of woolgrowers from Western Australia recently returned from a study tour of the Shanghai region of China, where they saw first-hand Australian wool being processed and manufactured into garments. Roma Parker, who with her husband Doug runs a 2200-hectare cropping and sheep property, 'Pri-inga', at Mingenew, 100 kilometres south-east of Geraldton, was impressed by the modern production lines in the mills and factories that she visited on the study tour. "Machinery within the factories and mills has been recently upgraded with European machines and the processes are very clean, swift and efficient," Roma notes. "The Chinese have spent a lot of money on these processing factories and they are looking forward to being part of the wool market in the future. "The Chinese love Australian wool, but over the years they say they have noticed a decline in the presentation of the clip," Roma notes. "They say there has been a significant increase in dark and medullated fibres, and while the problem used to be mainly in 21.5 micron clips, it is now prevalent among 18.5 micron clips. The processors are very keen that their message gets back to the sheds in Australia that dark and medullated fibres in the clip are a major problem in the processing of wool for the end products." WOOL PROCESSORS The study tour began by visiting one of the largest top makers in China, Reward, in Ningbo, which processes 15,000 tonnes of wool into tops and the same amount of carbonising wool. The tour then travelled to Zhangjiagang to visit Sunshine and Sudwolle. Sunshine is a very large and successful business processing wool all the way from greasy wool through Woolgrowers visit China's textile centre to apparel retailing. The company produces 32 million metres of worsted cloth a year, and made more than three million suits in 2008. Sudwolle, a German company that relocated from Berlin in 1992, purchases tops from Reward and other top makers in China and exports their dyed weaving and knitting yarns to Turkey, Italy, Israel, Japan, Korea and South America. The tour also visited Australian Harvest, another large top maker using wool sourced from Australia, and Tianyu Wool Industry Co Ltd, which is the first Chinese wool company to become a member of the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO). They currently buy 25,000 tonnes of greasy wool, 95 per cent of which is from Australia. Next day the tour travelled to Changzou to visit Changzou Fuyuan Textile Company, which normally produces 4000 tonnes of tops that are sold to Chinese garment manufacturers that export to the US and Europe. The technical part of the visit was rounded off by a visit to the Nanjing Wool Market. CHINESE DOMESTIC MARKET According to Roma, the Australian wool industry's focus for the future should be on the Chinese domestic market. "Living standards within China are improving and, given the large population of China, there is a huge potential that demand for wool will increase," Roma says. "In the past, China exported 70 per cent of the woollen products it produced and 30 per cent was sold locally. Now, they export 30 per cent and 70 per cent is sold locally. "I think our industry should concentrate on the progressive young Chinese. As is the Chinese custom, the young look after their aged relatives, so the focus of our woollen promotions should be to get the younger generation to buy woollen products for, not only themselves as 'progressive executives', but for their aged family as well -- all aspects of the market!" The study tour was led by Dr Ian Fairnie, formerly of Curtin University of Technology, and Ron Connors, former WA state manager of the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA). Study tours for woolgrowers from across Australia will again be held in 2010 in April and October. More information: Dr Ian Fairnie, 0419 938 707, email@example.com FAST FACTS l A group of woolgrowers on a study tour of wool mills and factories in the Shanghai region of China have been impressed by the modern production facilities. l The young Chinese domestic population is a potentially enormous market for Australian wool. 9 Tour members in discussion with Mr Charles Ing, President of the Reward wool factory at Ningbo, China. (From left) Roma Parker of Mingenew, Penny Bluman of Esperance, Anthony Thomas of Three Springs, Doug Parker of Mingenew, Rob Shannon of Carlisle (formerly of Onslow), Dr Gary Hepworth of Curtin University of Technology, Alan Heitman of Walkaway, tour leader Dr Ian Fairnie, Mr Charles Ing (President of Reward), QA manager of Reward. Not in the photo are Ron Connors (former state manager AWTA), Les and Anne Crane of Gabalong, Nils Bluman of Esperance, Laura Shannon now of Carlisle, Louise and John Gray of Esperance, and Helen Fairnie. PHOTO: HELEN FA IRNIE
September November 2009