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From the sheep's back to consumer, provenance new tool in selling wool

Primary Industries

AN Australian wool company is using consumer demand to know the provenance of agricultural products to increase the value of its fleece.

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Michell Wool, Australia’s largest wool processor, has engaged agribusiness expert Mark Rodda to implement its plan to link Australian wool growers directly with international clients.

The South Australian company is betting the plan will give overseas retailers and producers new marketing opportunities, increased profits and the ability to offer higher prices throughout the supply chain.

The plan provides an even greater incentive to produce the world’s most important and noble natural fire

The initiative will focus on ‘carding’ wools – which makes up around 20 per cent of the total volume of wool shorn from sheep.

Primarily carding wool is taken from the belly and legs and is mainly used to make carpets, socks, bedding and heavy coats.

Rodda believes this wool grade is enormously undervalued by wool growers.

“Wool growers traditionally focus on the higher value, higher quality fleece lines of their wool clip,” he said.

“And really pay little attention to their carding lines. However, it is valuable and highly sought after. It is more valuable to the global textile industry than growers perceive.

“Currently there are about 20 brokers around Australia who gather the wool for auction, sell it to wool traders, who then export this wool for processing throughout the world.

“Like many agricultural products, there is a growing desire for consumers to know where the raw product came from and the standards with which it was produced. Retailers understand the powerful marketing benefits of identifying if wool was organically grown, sustainably farmed or ethically harvested.”

“We know there are massive opportunities to link wool growers with retailers, through clearly identifying the providence of that wool. Embracing new technology to the effect the exchange of ownership and traceability of wool through the supply chain will allow savvy retailers to obtain a clear marketing edge over their traditional rivals.

Michell Wool’s major international clients are China, South Korea, Malaysia, India, France and Italy.

Rodda said linking growers directly with producers would allow the supply chain to be traced to confirm ethical farming and allow retailers to confidently and legally state where and how the wool had been produced.

“At the end of the day it is all about value,’’ he said. “From the wool grower to the processor to the end consumer.

“It increases overseas confidence in the Australian product and would also provide an impetus for increased international and national trade opportunities.

“Ultimately, this is about Australian wool growers seeing an increase in the returns for their carding wools and providing even greater incentive to produce the world’s most important and noble natural fire.”

Australia is currently the number one producer and exporter of apparel wool to the world, with over 80 per cent of Australia’s annual wool clip destined for processing in China.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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