Australian wool bodies pledge to fight contamination

Sheep Central May 29, 2023

Buyers want clean wool without contamination.

AUSTRALIA’S wool industry has re-affirmed its commitment to address wool preparation after its major market China expressed concern at rising contamination levels in clips.

At a recent meeting of the China Australia Joint Working Group, China raised the issue of clip preparation and contamination being found in Australian wool bales.

A joint media statement by Australia’s leading exporter, broker, grower, service and research organisations said contamination leads to reduced wool quality and poses a significant threat to the industry.

The industry bodies said the industry’s reliance on producing high-quality wool means that wool bale contamination is a major concern for producers, agents, buyers and processors.

AWEX chief executive officer Mark Grave said Australia has an international reputation of producing the best wool in the world due to the adherence to our stringent clip preparation standards.

“However, we have heard from our major customer that preparation issues, particularly contamination are on the rise.”

WoolProducers CEO Jo Hall said wool growers invest significant time and resources to produce their clip.

“However, they must remain vigilant during harvesting to ensure that contaminants, such as clothing, bale hooks and twine do not make it into bales and that classing standards are maintained.”

The industry bodies said the Australian industry has implemented several measures aimed at preventing and managing wool bale contamination, including education and training of growers, harvesting staff and brokers about the importance of maintaining clean clips.

National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia president Rowan Woods said everyone has a part to play in ensuring that Australia maintains its reputation of being the best wool producer in the world by ensuring that the quality of our clip remains first class and contaminant free.

AWTA managing director Michael Jackson said while not a failsafe method of detection, when contamination is found during testing there is a process whereby measures are taken to notify both the owner and classer of the wool and appropriate action can be taken.

“However, the easiest way to avoid contamination is to keep it out in the first place.”

The industry bodies said the work being undertaken by the Australian industry to enhance wool traceability also demonstrated the commitment to ensuring that our customers’ concerns regarding clip preparation issues can be acted on in a timely manner.

Australian Council of Wool Exporters president Josh Lamb said while the industry has a traceability system in place, industry bodies are working on enhancements to the system to ensure timelier tracing of product which will be of benefit to the entire supply chain, including our customers when quality issues arise.

“The sooner we are notified of an issue, the sooner we can take corrective action.” Mr Lamb said.

The current labour shortage being experienced in the wool harvesting sector is also playing a significant role in clip preparation issues, the industry bodies said.

Australian Wool Innovation CEO John Roberts currently, it is not only harder to find adequate numbers of staff, but it is more expensive than ever to employ harvesting labour.

“It has to be understood by our customers that quality costs money but unfortunately, we are not seeing this reflected in the market.

“Industry is committed to ensuring that those workers that we do engage are able to do their jobs in a professional manner, through ongoing training of shearers, wool handlers and wool classers”, Mr Roberts said.


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  1. Judy Turk, May 30, 2023

    De ja Vue. For more than 40 years I was involved in educating wool growers about this problem. It is a perennial problem and until growers realise they are producing a luxury fibre with customers who expect first class preparation it will not go away.

  2. Johann Schroder, May 30, 2023

    For reason(s) that are unknown to me, wool is not included in the commodities screened for a panel of chemical residues by the producer levy-funded NRS (National Residue Survey).
    Attempts to re-start a National Wool Residue Survey in 2006-7 met with apathy. Yes, education is essential, to ensure compliance with chemical usage recommendations and WHPs. But finding errors at home would be far less embarrassing than our customers abroad letting us know that our product is not up to scratch. Maybe another argument in favour of on-shore wool scouring?

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