Organic Wool: The New Golden Fleece in Australia?
It has oft been decreed that Australia rose to prosperity on the sheep’s back. Even today, half a century after those boom times eased, wool continues to represent about 6% of the gross value of agricultural production, and our sheep flock of about 107 million curly haired ruminants apparently occupy some 25% of Australia’s land mass. Yet organic wool seemingly only makes up 1% of this renewable fibre crop. Though international demand might succeed in pushing that higher.
In May this year the country saw its largest-ever feature sale of organic wool with 620 bales of certified and accredited organic wool sold. Another 200 bales are due to face the auctioneer this week. The incentive for graziers to embrace organic wool is the same as that attract food farmers. Better returns. Organic wool is fetching up to a 20% premium over conventional fleeces. Elders Wool Marketing Manager Michael Blake observed that organic wool needed to be treated as mainstream – such was the demand – rather than as a niche, one-off line.
While much of the eco wool coming up for sale has been sourced from the states of New South Wales and South Australia. That doesn’t mean it is isolated to those regions. Plevna Downs, in Queensland, has been running an organic merino sheep station for the past 10 years. ::Elders Wool, via EcoTextile.