7 Jul 2017

Wool industry hits hard times

4:21 pm on 7 July 2017

Wool prices have hit rock bottom, causing a lot of stress and emotion in the industry, says a Hawke's Bay wool broker.

Shearing

Photo: RNZ

Wright Wool managing director Philippa Wright has been in the industry 40 years and said she can't think of a time when prices have been lower.

Ms Wright said the wool sale at Napier yesterday was very disappointing.

"We are now at a lower point than we've ever been in my memory. Six years ago it was around about this level but yesterday I think it went a bit lower.

"The shorter wools are at an all time low but yesterday we saw the longer wools, the better coloured wools, the carpet type wools actually drop as well and quite significantly," she said.

Ms Wright said everyone in the industry had been affected by the downturn.

"There's a lot of stress and emotion at the moment ... we're holding a lot of wool on behalf of growers and the exporters are holding wool that they have bought with no where to go ... that's going to bring in cash-flow issues very soon."

Ms Wright has struggled to find storage for wool because many stores are full, which is unusual for this time of year.

She said New Zealand wool had been specifically marketed for 20 years and it was time to look at returning to this strategy.

"The working industry is spending a lot of time and money trying to create a renewed interest in wool and wool products, trying to innovate with new products, trying to find new markets.

"Eighty percent of our clip was going to carpet wool types, so it's a pretty big hole to fill."

The industry lacked a collaborative approach to markets, she said.

"We have no single political voice for wool. Three years ago the NZ Woolgrower voted against a statutory levy, the wool board was disestablished 15 years ago.

"We've had no marketing of New Zealand wool for nearly 20 years."