Wool prices under pressure from strong pound

Sheep farmers have been advised that wool prices for the coming season are under pressure because of what the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) has described as a tough global market.

The BWMB said wool prices are under pressure this year. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

BWMB chairman Ian Buchanan said: “It is no secret that wool prices are under pressure this year, resulting in producer returns being lower than in 2015, as is the case for wool producers across the globe. This is a result of the strong sterling for most of the selling season coupled with a weak New Zealand dollar.”

Looking at the UK market, Buchanan indicated prices for some breeds might be harder hit than others due to a downturn in the demand for carpet style wools while there had been a continued demand for the fine and medium wools as a result of Chinese interest.

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“It would be easy to look at the overall average price for all wools. However, of greater importance are the individual breed prices,” he said.

“Fine and medium wools such as Texel and Lleyn are expected to average £1.02 per kilo with Cheviot wool at £1.20 per kilo.

“The carpet wool market has been tougher, due to tight price boundaries being pushed by retailers and the increasing use of polypropylene. On the lowest end of the scale we expect Swaledale wool to make in the region of 40p per kilo and Blackface an average of 61p based on current market trends in recent months.”

Buchanan said the BWMB was investing in new marketing initiatives to increase demand. Chief among these was a new trade show for carpets held in London.

“This was the first show of its kind held in London and was well supported by the UK carpet industry and was aimed specifically at carpet retailers, manufacturers and the interior design sector,” he said.

“The UK is still a major market for using British wool in carpets and with a difficult retail market in the UK, the show proved timely and successful, with commitments from the manufacturers already for next year’s show.”