By Andrew Woods | Source: AWEX, ICS
Following on from the article on unskirted wool, by breed, from two weeks ago this article looks at the regional sources of unskirted (more formally non-conforming wool with fribs) during the past year. We also look at the impact that higher volumes of unskirted wool will have on the wool industry.
Figure 1 shows a break up of total wool sales (clean kg) by region for the past year (March 2015 to February 2016) along with a breakup of the non-con-forming wool with fribs volume. Western Australian regions, along with northern South Australia stand out as providing little in the way of unskirted wool in relation to the supply of wool coming from these regions. South West Victoria stands out as the main supplier of unskirted wool to sales in Australia, accounting for nearly one quarter of the volume. Southern South Australia is the second largest contributor of unskirted wool.
The earlier article on unskirted wool showed that 80% of unskirted wool sold at auction was crossbred wool, with about one third of the crossbred wool sold at auction overall sold as non-conforming with fribs. Therefore we should expect the proportion of unskirted wool by region to track the proportion of crossbred wool produced by the region. Figure 2 shows the proportion of crossbred wool sold from each region during the past year along with the proportion of unskirted wool. Keep in mind the proportion of crossbred wool may be high, as it is in eastern Victoria but the overall volume of wool from that region is relatively low (under 5%) as shown in Figure 1.
The proportion of unskirted wool does generally track the level of crossbred wool produced in the region with the exception of Tasmania and North-West Victoria where the supply of unskirted wool is relatively low.
As expected the supply of unskirted wool generally tracks the production of crossbred wool in a given region. The December 2015 article on lamb offtake indicated an expected increase in prime lamb production, which implies more crossbred wool production. Increased crossbred wool production in tandem with a trend for more unskirted wool poses some questions for the industry in terms of general quality, especially if the trends evident in crossbred start to show up in merino wool.
There is a vital role for trained wool classers to play in helping maintain quality in clip preparation but the current system of conforming and non-conforming wool means that non-conforming wool need not have a classer present in the wool shed at shearing. Limiting costs is a necessary part of business but it should be reviewed if quality starts to be affected.
Crossbred clips have embraced minimal preparation practices in recent years. If done well this can be appropriate, but it is not always so. Categorising all unskirted wool as non-conforming lumps conscientiously prepared clips in with some horrors, with buyer beware.
The grower side of the industry wonders why exporters want to see the samples! The industry needs to address this issue or the quality reputation of Australian crossbred clip will suffer, and in turn prices will suffer as well.
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