6 September 2002

British wool market is hit hard with low clip

DECLINING sheep numbers and foot-and-mouth disease hit the British wool market hard last year, with the Wool Marketing Board reporting a net deficit of £806,000 to the end of April 2002.

The total clip was 17% down on the previous season, at 36.3m kg, and extra costs due to F&M contributed to a 1.6p/kg rise in marketing expenses, to 21.3p/kg. A Chinese ban on British wool and the events of Sept 11 compounded marketing difficulties, and the average price received at auction was 69.7p/kg, says the board.

However, new season sales are stronger, with 30% of the clip already sold at an average price of 71p/kg.

"The prospects for British wool are certainly more encouraging," says chairman Frank Langrish.

"Sheep numbers throughout the world are low and the Southern hemisphere countries have strengthening currencies against sterling and the k. We should expect a period of more stability and sustained rising prices." &#42