8 March 2002

Outlook for wool is good

DESPITE suffering a severe downturn in sales due to foot-and-mouth, the economic outlook for wool is good, reckons British Wool Board managing director, Ian Hartley.

The comments come on the back of a season that saw production slump and handling costs rise. This years clip is estimated to be 35m kg, a reduction of 22%, with costs up almost 4p/kg to 23p/kg.

Output for 2002 is unlikely to be much higher than 38m kg, but the board is hoping to drag costs down to 20-21p/kg. A computerised system will be trialled at one depot, and the total number of depots will be scaled back from the current 17.

But Mr Hartley said production is static or in decline in most wool-producing countries, suggesting the UK might be in a good position to benefit from any upturn in demand. However, he was unable to indicate when this might happen, noting that China, the largest wool consumer, was still closed to British fibre. &#42