19 Dec 2008

Wool company accused of lack of co-operation

1:04 pm on 19 December 2008

Joint venture wool company Wool Partners International is being accused by other exporters and brokers of not co-operating in efforts to smooth out the supply of wool going to auction.

More than 18,000 bales were up for auction at the North Island sale in Napier on Thursday, the biggest offering this season.

Wool exporters asked the committee that rosters the wool for sale to reduce the amount so supply could be spread more evenly over the next three months.

Exporters say that would help them deal with the serious financial pressures they are suffering as the world economic crisis and credit squeeze drive down wool prices and demand.

However, they say they could not get the co-operation of Wool Partners International, which is represented on the committee.

Wool Partners International chief executive Ian Abercrombie denies this, saying the company is keen to co-operate with the rest of the industry to make things easier for exporters, but must take into consideration that farmers want to sell at this particular auction.

Mr Abercrombie said the auction price has been decreasing recently, and farmers would be angry if their wool received a lower price at because it was held back for a later auction.

He said WPI has also agreed to help relieve the pressure on exporters by extending the deadline when they have to pay for the wool they buy from the end of this month into January.

Mr Abercrombie regards the latest attack as part of the campaign the United Wool Marketers Group is waging to discredit the new joint venture.

After the auction, Malcolm Ching of exporter New Zealand Wool Services International, said says North Island prices were noticeably weaker than the sale in Christchurch, where volume was lower.

However he said overall prices held up better than expected at Thursday's sales.

Mr Ching said prices have dropped by 15% to 20% in just a few weeks as a result of the world economic downturn.