Warm and fuzzy outlook for Australian wool exports

Warm and fuzzy outlook for Australian wool exports article image

It’s all good news for Australian wool producers, with production, exports and prices on the rise.

The industry can look forward to strong retail sales growth, continued demand for Australian wool exports and strengthening prices, according to Senior ABARES Economist, Dr Caroline Gunning-Trant.

Dr Gunning-Trant told the ABARES Outlook 2017 conference in Canberra this week the price of wool in Australian dollars had been increasing since 2014.

“In the two years since early January 2015, prices have risen by about 35 per cent,” Dr Gunning-Trant said.

“The Australian Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) wool price is forecast to rise by 8 per cent in 2016-17 to around 1,360 c/kg.”

Dr Gunning-Trant said prices are expected to peak next year before easing in real terms as wool production increases.

And by the end of 2021-22, prices are expected to still be relatively high – about 10 per cent above the 10 year average in real terms.

Firm demand for fine wool

“The upward trend in prices reflects the constrained supply of apparel wool – given lower flock numbers – and firm demand, particularly for fine wool,” Dr Gunning-Trant said.

“By the end of 2016-17, shorn wool production is forecast to be 5 per cent higher than last year, reflecting flock rebuilding across the sector supported by good pasture growth on the back of 2016 rainfall. 

“And the national sheep flock is forecast to increase to 73.6 million head in 2016-17 and to continue increasing to around 83 million head by 2021-22.”

Dr Gunning-Trant said wool exports were forecast to rise by 4 per cent and reach 442,000 tonnes in 2017-18, as the expanding national flock results in further increases to the number of sheep shorn.

“This trend is expected to continue over the medium term and exports in 2021-22 are projected to grow to around 492,000 tonnes, valued at $3.9 billion, in real terms.”

Steady increase in international demand

Dr Gunning-Trant said export growth was supported by a slow but steady increase in international demand.

“Wool demand is continuing to grow in the European Union and the USA—the major international markets for imported clothing.

“And in China, wool consumption is forecast to grow more strongly because of relatively high rates of economic growth and increasing domestic consumption of luxury woollen textiles.”

China is the world’s largest producer and exporter of woollen clothing and textiles and a major consumer of finished woollen goods.

ABARES Outlook 2017 is Australia’s leading forum for public and private decision-makers in agriculture, This year marked the 47th annual conference.


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