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Feel-good factor helping BWMB maintain its work
Nov '11
A bumper year in the sheep industry which has resulted in a feel-good factor among farmers is helping the British Wool Marketing Board do more valuable work for the sheep industry, according to BWMB Chairman Malcolm Corbett.

Speaking at this week's BWMB Annual Conference, Bradford, Mr Corbett told delegates he had never experienced such a feeling among sheep farmers in his farming career.

“And this feel-good factor is filtering down through the industry and is drawing new blood to sheep farming and the ancillary industries. For its part BWMB has helped more than 1200 people begin or advance their shearing careers in 2011. “Up to 40% of these were new starters and the quantity and quality of our young shearers is a great legacy for the Board. Shearing Training co-ordinator Colin MacGregor and his team deserve our congratulations.”

The same feel-good factor has been present in the wool sector too, with strong prices at BWMB's auctions reflecting the increasing global demand for British wool, explained Mr Corbett. “Prices are at a 25 year high and have risen again this year, compared to last, with average prices some 60p/kg ahead of the same time in 2010. The competitive nature of our auctions is helping too as buyers know they'll have to bid strongly to get the wools they want.”

Ongoing publicity surrounding the Campaign for Wool has helped to lift demand and hence prices too, added BWMB Chief Executive Officer Ian Hartley. “The campaign has done a huge amount of work in encouraging consumers to appreciate the benefits of wool and, in doing so, pay more for a wool product.”
But it is not all good news, unfortunately, said Mr Hartley. “The increase in wool prices is hitting our major market segments, such as carpets, and there is a move by some manufacturers and stores to reduce the amount of wool and increase the amount of synthetics in carpets.”

Strong demand from China, India and other growing markets has helped to counteract this, but the market in the UK, the USA and Continental Europe is less buoyant and consumers are price conscious in everything they buy.

An emerging settled production pattern was though helping the Board to develop its strategy, with 2010 production at the same level as 2009 – 28.6m kg. “This is the first time in three years that it has not fallen, and I predict this year's clip will probably be slightly higher.

“This stabilisation is welcome news, but nobody on the Board would consider that we could get back, in the near future, to the 39m kg clip we handled in 2005. Therefore, the infrastructure on which the Board is basing its operation is around the 28–35 m kg level.”

In response to this BWMB has consolidated its depot network and invested in a state of the art new depot at North of England Wools, Bradford. “In the New Year the BWMB offices will also move to the new depot site at Canal Road, further rationalising the BWMB operation,” he added.

British Wool Marketing Board

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