8 Jul 2014

Wool exporter expects prices to hold

2:21 pm on 8 July 2014

The country's biggest wool exporter is expecting prices to hold their ground going into the new wool selling season.

The volume of wool exports fell during the past year but prices for cross-bred wool increased.

The indicator price for coarse cross-bred wool, which makes up about 70 percent of the New Zealand clip, rose by 9 percent to $5.12 per kilogram despite the undermining effect of a stronger New Zealand dollar on export returns.

New Zealand Wool Services International general manager John Dawson was forecasting a steady as she goes outlook for the new selling season and said much depended on the currency.

"If you see a weaker Kiwi, which some people are forecasting now, that will have an effect as well," Mr Dawson said.

More than half of New Zealand's wool exports had gone to China, and Mr Dawson said the new uses China was finding for carpet-style wool had been instrumental in lifting coarse wool prices.

"One of the most important factors that we've seen over the season has been the amount of coarser-type wools that traditionally went into the carpet end of the business, a lot of that wool is going into the Chinese top-making industry, and that hasn't happened before, certainly not wools down to 38, 39-micron, which we're seeing this year," he said.

"You're talking about upholstery yarns, yarns that are going into blankets, army uniforms, etc. "

That trend in China was fortunate, as wool continued to lose ground to synthetics in the carpet trade.

"If you put a broad brush across the carpet end of the clip in New Zealand, a lot of people would say it's overpriced, for the traditional carpet types, and I think they'd point to the evidence in the Australasian market, where increasingly wool's losing out to man-made fibres, solution-dyed nylon ... and that is purely a price thing."

Ten years ago wool carpets held a 70-80 percent share of the Australasian carpet market but that had fallen to 20-30 percent, Mr Dawson said.