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AWI letter from the Chairman
Monday 30th March 2020
I am writing to you with an important update on AWI’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and how we are continuing to work for growers to ensure sustainability for our industry and profitability for your enterprises.
Your interests and future remain our focus and so it’s not just about the here and now, the confinement and restrictions that currently come with that, the board also is looking over the immediate horizon to ensure that we identify markets and sectors within those markets that will respond quickly and drive demand as we come through this unprecedented disruption.
COVID-19 is both a major health crisis and a major economic shock to the world economy.
There is mixed news out of China. Some factories have reopened while others have lost orders from buyers in the United States. The outlook remains uncertain.
The Italian factories remain shut and it is unclear when life and industry will return to normal there, the United Kingdom or the United States.
For the next six months overall consumer demand for wool in those three markets will be weak. At AWI we have already cancelled or postponed a series of marketing initiatives that rely on face to face shopping in the short term. The marketing team are already working hard to tap into what people are likely to purchase online over the coming months and identify the opportunities for wool.
The decision by the Federal Government to allow shearing to continue under strict health and hygiene protocols is a great result. AWI worked closely with other organisations to push the case. We continue to work on how this will work in the shearing shed; we do this in close co-operation with groups like the West Australian Shearing Industry Association and the Shearing Contractors Association of Australia. On the AWI website www.wool.com, we are providing up-to-date information, tutorials and simple signs that can be put up in shearing sheds to help in this regard.
Wool auction rooms also pose a challenge in terms of managing social distancing. For now they remain open. Australian Wool Exchange’s National Auction Selling Committee has asked WoolQ to help demonstrate online selling in the light of future disruption due to COVID-19. It has always been WoolQ’s aim to complement all the strengths of the existing system at the same time as delivering additional services, rather than a replacement.
AWI remains focussed on facilitating the development of a 10-year strategic plan for Australian woolgrowers. While AWI has agreed to resource the development of the plan, the Woolgrower Consultation Group (WCG), will provide the principal oversight for the project. The plan is for the benefit of Australian woolgrowers as AWI’s primary stakeholders. The time frame for that remains unchanged with release planned for later in the year.
Let me assure you all AWI staff are still working hard albeit from home for the foreseeable future. We have the digital support infrastructure and frameworks to ensure productivity. Please don’t hesitate to contact us about anything we can do to help.
On a personal level I hope you and your families are safe and well and remain so.