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Wool returns stable and future positive

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By Fiona Reid
Farming
Wool returns stable and future positive

WOOL has a positive future but sheep farmers need to work together.

That’s the message from the chairman of British Wool, Jim Robertson, a farmer from Langholm.

The organisation this week revealed that wool returns for 2024 are similar to last year despite a reduced clip in 2023, and that the overall lower wool intake weight is impacting the returns.

Despite this, Jim stressed it’s a stable position.

He said: “Prices strengthened in the autumn but have weakened again over the last two months with mountain wool types struggling all season. British Wool’s auction prices for the season are on a par with New Zealand.

“We handled 2500 tonnes less wool in 2023 primarily due to lighter fleeces. Our typical member delivered ten per cent less wool in 2023 than in 2022.

“The decline in wool volumes reduced our returns by around 7p per kg. If we had handled the same weight as the previous year, many grades would have been up 20p per fleece. Every additional 500 tonnes we handle improves returns for all members by 1.5p per kg.”

He noted that low wool prices are an issue globally, adding: “The rise of oil-based fibres over recent decades has driven down the value of wool. The world is, however, now starting to wake up to the environmental damage these fibres cause, and the sustainability credentials of wool.

“More brands are specifying British wool. We now have 153 licensees producing a wide range of products from our wool. Driving demand for British wool is essential if we are to differentiate our clip from the commodity market.”

He stressed the organisation’s commitment to creating long-term value for sheep farmers and said: “We understand the recent wool prices have been disappointed to many, including ourselves.

“But with the initiatives we have in place, we truly believe the long-term outlook is encouraging. Working together, we can build a positive future for wool.”

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