The long-term outlook for wool is good, but sheep producers will only be paid an average of 77p/kg this season after a difficult trading period last year.

That was the message from British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB) boss Ian Hartley at this week’s North Sheep event in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, when he described the mid-2012 market for wool as “extremely turbulent”.

“But high clearance rates at the wool board’s auctions in the first half of this year mean we are heading into the new season in a strong marketing position,” said Mr Hartley.

The competitive market in the early part of 2013 enabled the wool board to sell the entire clip ahead of schedule and also clear a 5m kilo carryover from the previous season. “The market was so strong that we had to cancel the final auction of the season because we had insufficient wool to sell.”

Last summer’s dip in trade was caused by slow demand from China and reduced sales to the carpet sector, said Mr Hartley.

Wool board chairman Malcolm Corbett said there were no signs of demand slipping at the moment and the Chinese market was rising again.

“The increasing demand for wool products is in part due to the continued work of the Campaign for Wool,” he said.

“Average producer payments for the coming season will be 77p/kg, with wide variations within that average across all breeds and wool types.” Mr Corbett added that it was disappointing at a time of hardship for sheep producers that the poor trading conditions meant the wool cheque was down on last year.

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