22 June 2001

Wool marketing board warning

WOOL prices are set to fall and handling costs rise after foot-and-mouth caused severe disruption of the British Wool Marketing Boards operations.

The organisations latest price schedule, released this week, indicates the average price paid to producers this year will be 42p/kg, a decrease of 8p/kg from last season.

However, this figure comprises the balance of last years clip and an advance payment for the current crop. The latter has been reduced because of a lack of market information due to the F&M outbreak.

"Any shortfall could be made up in next years schedule," says a BWMB spokeswoman. Costs will increase by 2.5p/kg to 20.5p/kg, again due to F&M. "We are now having to store wool for two months to ensure the virus is destroyed."

Any shortfall in supply caused by the recent cull is unlikely to improve prices. "The continuing strength of the £ against the NZ$ means UK wool is still struggling to compete on the world market," says the board.

Organic sheep producers will have their wool marketed separately this season. But, as yet, the BWMB says it has "no idea" if the product will command any price premium. &#42