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Beyond the Bale : September 2012
34 34 September 2010 Beyond the Bale 34 on-farm fasT faCTs l The price of wool sold at auction varies according to the characteristics of the wool. l Woolgrowers can avoid discounts and attract increased premiums by producing wool with the characteristics that are valuable to buyers, processors and consumers. l Fibre diameter is the single most important characteristic of greasy wool, and accounts for over two thirds of the variation in price. Value of wool Woolgrowers looking for the latest trends in wool price premiums and discounts will find it in AWI’s recent review of AWEX data for all fleece wool auctioned between 2004 and 2011. The AWI report The Economic Value of Fleece Wool Attributes analysed the relationship between clean prices for over 1.7 million lots (1.8 million tonnes) of fleece wool, and a range of characteristics of the raw wool sold from July 2004 to June 2011. Non-fleece wool lots, and wool lots that were passed in, were excluded. This study differs from previous studies by testing a much wider range of factors affecting wool price, including interactions. ausTraLian wooL CLip In 2011, the wool industry contributed $A2.3 billion to Australian export earnings, or 8 per cent of the total value of Australian farm exports. Almost 90 percent of the 350 million kg Australian wool clip is finer than 24.4 microns, with half of the clip finer than 20.4 microns. The characteristics of wool fibre determine its end use in either the higher quality worsted system or the woollen system. The worsted system can process long Merino and cross-bred wools, while shorter wools and oddments like locks, crutchings and lambs wools are used in the woollen system. Buyers look for different wool quality characteristics depending on the wool category. This study analysed data for five wool categories (see Table 1). September 2012 Beyond the Bale Category CharaCteriStiC % Share by Weight value Ultrafine Less than 16.5 micron 2 3 Superfine 16.5 -18.4 micron 15 20 Fine 18.5 -20.4 micron 32 34 Medium 20.5 -24 .4 micron 39 36 Broad Higher than 24.4 micron 12 7 Table 1. wool categories analysed in the study MICroN 21.2 21.1 21 20.9 20.8 20.7 20.6 20.5 20.4 20.3 20.2 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 figure 1: average fibre diameter by season (whole sample) The data showed that the diameter of the Australian clip increased very slightly, from consistently between 20 and 21 micron for most of the seven selling seasons, to 21.12 micron in 2010-11 (see Figure 1). Drought across eastern Australia from 2004-05—2006-07, and a small but increasing component of broad non-Merino wool may have contributed to this increase.