Interview with David Ritchie

David Ritchie
David Ritchie

Wool buying and exporting is a mature business...
David Ritchie is President of Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors (ACWEP) and has vast knowledge about the woolen market. He shares his views about the wool market with Fibre2Fashion Correspondent Manushi Gandhi. Synopsis: The Australian Wool Industries Secretariat Inc (AWIS) comprises the following organisations: * Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors Inc. (ACWEP) * Private Treaty Wool Merchants of Australia Inc (PTWMA) * Federation of Australian Wool Organisations (FAWO) The ACWEP works in the favour of wool buying companies and is well recognised by Government as well as many industry sectors. The council was formed in 2006 by the merger of two other bodies. Today, most Australian wool is exported in the greasy form, or as scoured or carbonised wool. Marino wool of Australia enjoys a good status in the international textile market. David Ritchie is the General Manager of Victoria Wool Processors, a scouring and carbonising company based in Laverton, Melbourne, and is the President of the Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors (ACWEP). He is a Director of the Australian Wool Testing Authority, where he is a Member of the Audit and Finance Committee. Excerpts:

Wool is a seasonal commodity, so the demand goes very low in summers. How does this affect the wool industries? And what is the alternative for industries to this seasonal demand?

The seasonality of demand for woollen garments is being addressed by technical and promotional work to develop and promote products which are suitable for summer wear. This includes such things as the development of lightweight woollen fabrics and promotion campaigns such as those for "Cool Wool". However, the wool processing pipeline is quite long as wool goes through a number of processes before the greasy wool that comes off a sheep’s back is finally woven into fabric and made up into garments. As such, the demand for, and supply of greasy wool continues throughout the year in the major wool growing countries. This enables wool processors to continue their operations throughout the year. Supply from Australian farms varies throughout the year and there is sufficient supply to have weekly wool sales other than for three weeks in winter and for three weeks at Christmas.

How does ACWEP function and what are the major achievements of the council?

ACWEP addresses matters of importance to Australian wool exporters and processors, both in the short term and in the longer term. It does this by liaison with other wool industry sectors, with Government and with other organisations, as required. This includes responding to unexpected issues as they occur and researching and addressing issues of longer term importance. In recent years, ACWEP has: * Negotiated a revised set of Terms and Condition for Trade in wool for China with the Nanjing Wool Market. * Achieved a major reduction in the proposed increases in some services for wool exporters that were proposed by the Australian Government. * Worked with the International Wool Textile Organisation (IWTO) to achieve better requirements for the export of wool into the EU. * Participated in Joint Working Groups with the Chinese wool industry and the Indian Governments.

How does the quality of Australian wool differ from the rest?

Wool is a very variable product, ranging in fibre diameter from less than 12 microns to over 40 microns. In general terms, the use of wool is largely determined by its fibre diameter. Fine wool, for example less than 25 microns, is used for apparel, while the coarser wool is used for interior textiles such as curtains, seat covers and carpets. The finest wool is used to produce the highest quality garments for men’s and women’s wear. The Australian wool industry is the largest in the world and it is the largest producer of Merino wool (up to 24 microns) for apparel wear. It is expected to produce 345 million kilograms (mkg) of greasy wool this season (July 2012 to June 2013) of which approximately 81% will be from Merino sheep. Sheep are also used to produce meat or milk. Such sheep invariably produce coarser diameter wool which may also be of a lower quality.
Published on: 03/04/2013

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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