Merino market looking buoyant

The wool industry has some cause to be feeling more optimistic judging by comments made by South Island wool procurement manager for PGG Wrightson, Rob Cochrane.

He told the annual meeting of the NZ Wool Classers' Association in Timaru that the merino market was ''cooking'', driven by the lack of production in Australia.

''The current season forecast is that production there will be down a further 2.5%.''

He said this provided an opportunity for New Zealand but top preparation was essential.

Three or four companies in New Zealand had contracts requiring different ways of preparation and it was vital standards were kept high.

''As woolhandlers/classers it's important you know what is needed.

''Listen to the brokers and merchants and make sure you do the job to their satisfaction.''

There had been a small resurgence in China, particularly for 35 microns and finer wool, and Mr Cochrane said stockpiles kept in China for the past few years were being sold.

The McKinsey report in 2000 outlined a restructure of the sheep industry and the way wool was marketed and advised to get rid of mid-micron sheep.

''Thank God some farmers took no notice,'' he said.

''We've never got enough 23 to 39 micron wool.''

A lot of mid-micron wool was going into fake fur Chinese blending wool.

''It's selling very well in garments although it may be short-lived. Preparation again for these is paramount.''

On the negative side, Mr Cochrane said the woolbred market was ''worse than in the doldrums.

''Some of your employers (farmers) have said it's not worth it and it has created problems for the industry down the track.''

-By Chris Tobin

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