Why wool prices are so bad at the moment
A swift change in fashion tastes in China, one of the world's major textile buyers, is being blamed as wool prices to farmers have halved to 60c/kg.
Farmers have been left at a loss with shearing this season, with wool prices failing to cover the €2-3 average ewe shearing cost.
Irish wool buyers have reported a sharp drop in interest in the Chinese marketplace, with some Asian buyers reneging on contracts to buy Irish produce.
Aidan Walsh, from Texacloth, reported prices have taken their sharpest dip in around a decade with 60c/kg the going price, down from €1.20/kg this time last year.
"The biggest reason being the Chinese are pretty much totally out of the market for the Irish-bred half type of wool," he said. "The Chinese haven't taken up all their contracts from last season - they've reneged. A lot of them have gone to the wall as well. A lot of the textile people in China were gamblers - if they wanted 100t, they'd buy 1,000t as they'd reckon that it would go up."
The Kildare-based buyer said China was now opting for merino type wool from Australia for lighter fabrics and more acrylics.
"That is all fashion. Someone in time will look at Irish, English and New Zealand wool and say it is so cheap, they'll buy it again," he said. "We are happy to buy wool. I've been around the block before many times when wood prices crash, after all, it is a commodity."
He said it was disappointing when you thought you had a long-term buyer but they had found a new customer in India and some on the Continent.