INCREASED demand has seen the wool market hit record highs this year, with the Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) now more than 20 per cent higher than the same period last year.
According to newly appointed Quality Wool Export Trading Manager Andrew Partridge, while the market is currently experiencing some consolidation amid larger offerings prior to Christmas, national weekly wool sales are worth around $90-$100 million to woolgrowers.
“New and increasing demand from the active outdoor sportswear market, which is primarily produced from finer wools that can be worn close to the skin, is playing its part, largely driving the demand for finer Merino wool,” Andrew said.
“More recently, a new fashion item, ‘Fake Fur’ or ‘Plush Fabric’, has seen more competition enter the market within China. It’s made predominately from wool, is a heavy winter fabric and uses a wide range of microns, from comeback to fine Merino.
“Then there are the standard traditional types like the quality conscious Italian market.
“All of this demand augurs well for the future Merino wool market.
“The crossbred wool market still has a bit of a hangover from its last bull run of prices, particularly coarser types, but opinions are slowly turning more optimistic.”
He said Chinese mills were also active, booking sales across the full range of types and microns for delivery into January and even February, 2018.
Andrew joined Quality Wool last month, but has been involved in the sheep and wool industry for more than 30 years.
Starting his career at a grassroots level, he cut his teeth working on the family’s 800-hectare Merino sheep and cropping enterprise in Victoria’s south-east Wimmera.
Andrew spent time working as a wool classer, shearer and shedhand around Stawell before his first professional appointment as an assistant wool manager for international trading company, Itochu Australia.
Having a clear passion for the export side of the industry, Andrew later stepped into the role of senior export trader with Techwool, a company that specialises in the supply of greasy wool.
“I have been privileged to have worked for some major wool companies like Itochu and Techwool on the export side, buying and selling and working intimately with mills,” he said.
“During my time at Techwool, I managed the export of over 300 containers into China as the number one exporter of crossbred fleece.”
Andrew said he was keen to take up the Export Trading Manager position with Quality Wool and join its team, having come to know and respect the company during his career.
“At Quality Wool, with Mark Dyson at the helm, whom had his time as an export buyer, he truly knows how the industry works and has modelled the business around having strong relationships with all facets of the wool pipeline.’’
“The company’s success is a credit to him and the Quality Wool team and I look forward to contributing to its continued success.”
Based in Geelong, where he lives with his family, Andrew is responsible for the management of private buying and wool export clients, as well as providing support and advice to buying staff and representatives, utilising his established connections with overseas mills and Australian exporters.
He also provides support to the Quality Wool auctioneering team.