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Beyond the Bale : June 2017
POSITIVE WOOL PRICES CONTINUE Wool prices have continued their strong start to 2017. While the EMI surpassed 1,400c for the first two months of the year, it has gone on to reach above 1,500c for almost all of the subsequent three months. We all hope these prices can be sustained over the long-term to reward the hard work and loyalty that woolgrowers have demonstrated towards the fibre. With supply having not diminished, 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. With international retail spending down, other competitive fibre prices depressed, four per cent more wool on the market this year and wool prices continuing to go up, we are clearly seeing genuine and significant demand which demonstrates our market strategies have had an effect. UPHOLDING STANDARDS IN THE SHED Adequate numbers of highly skilled professional staff to harvest and handle the Australian wool clip is vital to the Australian wool industry. For its part, AWI provides funds for shearer and wool handler training, and shearing competitions, to help encourage better techniques and professionalism in shearing and woolhandling. Just as vital – not only in every shearing shed in Australia but for the entire wool industry – is woolgrowers having their sheep and shed well prepared for shearing, upholding the best in animal welfare, and setting standards for their entire shearing team. Good communication between woolgrowers, contractors and shearing teams is essential, and displaying the industry’s ‘code of conduct’ poster in the shed can help woolgrowers ensure standards are met. Copies of the poster are available from AWI (see page 47). MIXED ENTERPRISES How and where wool fits into a mixed enterprise has often been a difficult question 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 for many producers, but those producers who fit wool within their business are finding it works well and is an important additional enterprise. Given the recent past experience of variable seasonal conditions, plus the high input costs of cropping, producers in the wheat-sheep zone and low rainfall areas are seeing the benefit of having a wool enterprise to manage their risk. NEW STRAIN OF RABBIT CALICIVIRUS A strain of rabbit calicivirus (RHDV1 K5) new to Australia was released in March at 550 sites across the country. Laboratory tests on samples recently collected from dead wild rabbits in NSW, Victoria, ACT, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, indicate that they had the K5 strain. While it is still too early to see how widespread the impact of the K5 release will be, it is encouraging to hear that release sites have reportedly seen an impressive 42 per cent average reduction in wild rabbit numbers and there has been confirmation that K5 has already spread from some release sites. This initiative will boost other biocontrol activity and help woolgrowers increase their productivity. WOOLGROWERS HIGHLIGHTED IN MARKETING The source of Australian wool and the stories of the woolgrowers that grow the fibre are increasingly being used by industry partners in their marketing to consumers. Australian lifestyle brand Country Road and German mountainwear company ORTOVOX are two examples of companies that are using Australian wool’s provenance story as a core ingredient in their high-value end product. You can read about their latest marketing campaigns on pages 18 and 12 respectively. Australian wool has a wonderful story and I am confident that we will continue to see an increasing enthusiasm of leading brands to use the farm to fashion narrative to help market their wool products to consumers. AUSTRALIAN WOOL WEEK Australian retailers came together for Wool Week which was held in May to coincide with the start of the Australian winter retail season. An initiative that arose from the global Campaign for Wool, Wool Week champions the eco-credentials of the fibre, making it the perfect choice for today’s conscious consumer – for products from luxurious fine Merino wool apparel through to beautiful hardwearing interior products for the home. This year, AWI also collaborated with leading shopping centre Westfield for its winter fashion campaign, celebrating Australian wool, the growers who produce the fibre and the designers who use it. It was pleasing to see so many store fronts promoting wool – we are fortunate to have great brands to help do this during Wool Week. AWI PODCAST FOR WOOLGROWERS AWI’s free podcast, The Yarn, which was launched last year, has been well received by Australian woolgrowers. It is an audio report designed to be listened to on a smartphone or on a computer, and complements our other regular communications to woolgrowers such as Beyond the Bale, monthly e-newsletter and market intelligence updates. The Yarn includes reports from our staff across the world on marketing initiatives to increase the demand for Australian wool, plus our on-farm and off-farm R&D results. I recommend that you take a listen. Further details are available at www.wool.com/podcast NEW AWI GENERAL MANAGER, RESEARCH After a thorough search for suitable candidates for the significant role of General Manager, Research, I am delighted to welcome Dr Jane Littlejohn back to AWI. Having previously held the role of General Manager, On farm Research at AWI, Dr Littlejohn has a strong and proven track record in managing this portfolio and delivering on-farm results for woolgrowers. She has spent the past year managing the National Wild Dog Action Plan. UPFRONT 3