Prince launches scheme to boost wool prices

The Prince of Wales has backed a scheme to help sheep farmers around the world boost the price of wool.

Devised by the Prince and the director of the Pastoral Alliance, John Thorley, the scheme was billed as a comeback for wool at the launch on a Cambridgeshire sheep farm on Tuesday (26 January).

The scheme aims to turn around the wool market’s fortunes, which has seen prices slump from 93p/kg in 1997 to 66p/kg last year.

It will promote the green credentials of wool to consumers as well as urging shops to promote it as a fashionable material for clothes, carpets and rugs.

The Prince intends to create a green label to adorn woollen products across the UK and Commonwealth countries such as Australia and New Zealand.

The value of British wool has been particularly affected by prices in New Zealand, which are at their lowest level for 50 years.

Nicholas Coleridge, the campaign’s manager, said: “We want to make wool something desirable, so it will affect wool prices.

“The plan is to try to overturn some myths and to talk up the beauty of wool and the eco-benefits of wool, which lasts longer than synthetic materials and is fully bio-degradable.

“In this way we hope to re-awaken interest in wool,” he told The Times newspaper.

The Prince was made aware of poor wool prices two years ago after upland tenants of his Duchy estate complained.

His own flock of Lleyn and Hebridean sheep fetched similarly low prices.

Annual wool cheques used to cover feeding costs, but shearing and removing fleece costs farmers £1 to £1.40.

Last year sheep farmers made no profit from wool at about £1 a fleece.

* For more on this story see Phil Clarke’s Business Blog