Promoting wool as 'green' fibre could lift sales: ICSA
Efforts must be made to market wool as a 'green' fibre as it is currently worthless to farmers, it has been urged.
The price for wool has been poor over the past 12 months with a lack of appetite in the Chinese market being blamed for the fall-off in demand.
"Wool is currently worthless and farmers are often left at a loss financially at the end of shearing season with wool prices failing to cover the €2-€3 average ewe shearing cost," said the ICSA's John Brooks.
With a new shearing season in sight, he called for more efforts to promote Ireland's indigenous wool industry as sheep numbers have risen to over five million head in recent years.
"We need to see a concerted effort made to breathe life back into the industry. At a time when low carbon, low waste, biodegradability and renewability are the factors by which products and processes are judged, wool scores high on all," he said, adding it was a viable alternative to fossil fuel based synthetic fibres.
Aidan Walsh, from Texacloth, said the market was dependent on export for large-scale sales as it could be processed cheaper elsewhere.
He pointed out there wasn't enough volume in Ireland to keep a factory running apart from cottage industries.
The Kildare-based buyer said there was an overhang of New Zealand wool on the world market at the moment and there were some concerns weather there may impact on the quality of the clip. Currently, he said there were no signs of any major changes to the wool market for this year, with farmers getting around 50c/kg for wool by the end of the last season.
However, he said the market tends to be cyclical and the Chinese reenter and buy on a "rising market".
"It might be this season, it might be next season," said Mr Walsh.
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