On the back of strong demand for quality merino wool, the wool market gained further momentum over the past month. Although the weaker Rand may have provided some support, it is interesting to note that the local currency was trading at approximately the same level against the US Dollar as during the same sale the previous season. Yet, prices were at much lower levels at the time.

The final sale in October 2016 saw the Cape Wools Merino indicator closing at R152,20/kg – a difference of almost 20% compared with last season. The Australian indicator is around 17% above that of the same sale last season. Analysts have cautioned that prices for the finer end of the market, particularly 18 and 19 microns, may be approaching the top end of its seasonal band, 18,5 around the middle and 21,0 micron the low end of its seasonal band.

While a large percentage of South Africa’s clip is still shorn by hand, a New Zealand blade shearer claims that there is renewed interest in this form of shearing. He has been shearing all around the world and says the reason is that blade shearing has much more animal welfare benefits and is “kinder” to sheep.

Wool shipments for the period July to September 2017 show that Italy, on a value basis, has replaced the Czech Republic as the second largest importer. New on the top 10 importer list is Bulgaria which, for the period under review, has become the fourth largest importer.

The Australian export industry has been shocked by the discovery of a racket whereby tested wool is replaced by inferior wool before shipment. Indications are that it is done after testing and prior to shipment. – Cape Wools SA

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