Monthly Market Reports
Monthly insights into economic, finance and trade issues affecting global demand for wool, and what this means for the Australian wool industry.
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The Yarn is AWI’s podcast.
In addition to our regular communications such as the quarterly Beyond the Bale magazine, monthly e-newsletter, regular social media and media releases, The Yarn is a fortnightly audio report from across the wool research, development and marketing body.
Designed to be listened to on a smartphone for people on the go, The Yarn is put together essentially to report to those who AWI principally works for: Australian woolgrowers.
With staff and networks around Australia and offices in various locations around the world, AWI reports from across its broad scope: from the paddocks and shearing sheds on Australian farms to wool processing facilities, design studios and catwalks in the main consumer markets around the world.
If you have a question you would like to raise as part of the AWI podcast please email AWI Communications Manager Marius Cuming: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download the podcast by either clicking the episodes below,
or viewing in the iTunes store here.
An ugly wool market restart: why?
After a 3-week break, Australian wool auctions have returned with heavy losses for various reasons.
Hear from an insider: Scott Carmody talks through the exact reasons why the wool market has dropped so heavily a year after record highs.
On a positive note, we also hear from a very upbeat and innovative Australian Woolmark licensee who has a great view of the future for wool.
A fashion journalist’s love for wool
Colin McDowell is one of the world’s top fashion commentators. Having been a journalist for over 20 years, he has at one time or another written for every quality newspaper and magazine in Britain. Join Ellie and Colin in Wales as they talk about wool's past, present and future and Colin's work as a mentor and judge for the International Woolmark Prize.
Magnificent Maidens: lambing ewes at 12 months
Merino ewes can successfully lamb at 12 months of age, but it takes commitment and confidence. Hear the research behind the potential from James Whale, Meridian Ag who studied exactly this.
Persistent pastures and plugging feed gaps
More resilient, more flexible, more productive:
Hear from the 2019 Southern Australia Grassland Society conference as Australia’s farmers look for better pastures for an uncertain future.
Smart Tags and WoolQ: the future of wool
Real time monitoring of stock is unlocking many sheep secrets but using powerful computer learning, could we identify stock by facial recognition also?
WoolQ brings woolgrower closer to the consumer, hear the latest on this exciting new platform for wool.
The 100% solar-powered woolshed
What does it take and what does it cost to create a woolshed that is 100% off the grid?
The savings, the innovations, the opportunities and the future.
Hear it all from Peter and Jane Waters who have done it with their 4-stand, 2-press operation.
Wool around the world
Woolmark’s Jeff Ma in downtown Shanghai explains China’s love for wool.
Travel to the Yorkshire mills in the UK and hear how innovation with Australian wool has kept new fabrics evolving after 200 years.
In Australia though, continuing drought is keeping supply of wool low, while feed and finance are tight for many who actually grow the fibre.
Managing risk and the associated rewards makes Australian farming one of the hardest jobs of all. However, there is a form guide and tools to significantly help manage risk and in turn, help business and ultimately your own well-being.
Cam Nicholson from Nicon Consulting has some key points to share.
50 years of service to the West Australian agricultural industry
From 10-pound pom to OAM, Bob Hall talks of the changes through 50 years as a sheep consultant and why the future looks so bright for sheep and wool.
Educating the future of wool; the NMC
160 students from right across Australia attended the National Merino Challenge (NMC) to learn about wool and sheep.
What do secondary and tertiary students learn and how does this provide a career pathway into the great Australian wool industry?
Hear from those who have made the NMC the great educational success story it is today.
Secrets of a Kelpie Master
Ian O’Connell has over 50 years working and training working dogs.
Hear what it takes to work better with your best mates.
Supply, Demand and Asia: where wool dragons drive demand
China, Japan, Korea and India are giants when it comes to the processing and consumption of Australian wool but with the global economy slowing down, how is wool positioned to stay at high demand levels? Hear from Woolmark’s John Roberts, GM Eastern Hemisphere about the initiatives across Asia and also trade analyst Scott Carmody about the sentiment of the raw wool auction rooms.
Merino Lifetime Productivity (MLP) Project Update
Four years into the ten-year long MLP Project, the industry experts from the MLP Industry Steering Committee share the successes of the project so far and the outcomes the industry hopes to see in the future.
Regenerative agriculture: fad or the future?
Woolgrower, historian and author of "Call of the Reed Warbler”, Charles Massy is now an advocate, hear why.
We Wool Win at the Boston Marathon
Merino wool competes in the world's oldest annual marathon alongside a growing international community of athletes.
Rebuilding a giant: the Qld wool industry
Once a mainstay of the Queensland economy, the wool and sheep industry has shrunk to a shadow of its former self thanks in part to prices, drought and wild dogs over many years. But a quiet rebuild is in underway with a massive commitment to exclusion fencing and flock restructure, farmers are keen to return to sheep when the rains also return.
How to plan and execute practical change
Dr. Jason Trompf has a lifetime of experience as a researcher, consultant, facilitator and head of AWI's Victorian extension network, Best Wool, Best Lamb. AWI's Marius Cuming speaks to Jason about the four key pillars of practical change and the integration of education into farming communities. Jason also practices what he preaches, running around 3,000 meat composite ewes in the North East of Victoria.
Capping off our Western Australian series, we head to Cranmore farming to discuss the benefits of Merinos in a mixed farming operation. We also talk to AWI’s WA wild dog coordinator Meja Aldrich, about the management and control of wild dogs in sheep producing areas.
Lessons in and out of the shearing shed
Shearing technique, shearing shed design and building, shearer training; it’s all in Don Boyle’s repertoire. Hear how one man went from a handpiece at 15 to over 20,000 sheep in one lifetime.
Having spent so long in sheds, he now designs and builds woolsheds with sheep, woolhandlers and shearers in mind. Hear what works for all.
The Live Sheep Trade
The Sheep Collective has been formed to tell the stories of the people, sheep and landscape behind the live sheep trade. Can it continue and how? Hear Dr Holly Ludeman explain.
Why have sheep in a cropping system?
We head to Western Australia to hear how mixed farmers in the wheatbelt have improved their overall sheep/cropping enterprise by adopting electronic tagging and the AWI/RIST Lifetime Ewe Management course.
The Road to Balranald
Head to far south west NSW and hear some of the epic stories of the Australian wool industry. Wool still plays a significant role for the farming families in this part of the world where horizons are broad, rains are rare but people are warm and welcoming despite facing some unique challenges.
Droughts, floods but optimism in QLD
Queensland farmers have been through a lot. From scorching droughts to the recent flooding and the persistent attacks from wild dogs, the elements have thrown everything at Queensland’s rural communities. But at the recent Australian Wool Network conference held in Longreach, the optimism of the Queensland woolgrowers shone through.
Ella Edwards and Anna Buckley from The Woolmark Company – AWI’s marketing arm – were invited to speak at the conference and interviewed woolgrower Peter Clark and AWN representative Greg Hunt about the conditions in Queensland and the attitude surrounding the wool industry.
From exclusion fencing to classing sheep, Peter and Greg give insight into Queensland’s wool industry and what the future holds for Queensland woolgrowers.
Thank you to AWN for inviting AWI to present at the conference and to the woolgrowers and staff for their hospitality.
Fashion Secrets Explained
How long does it take from sheep to shop? Who makes the decisions about what wool design and colour is ultimately seen at retail?
In this episode learn some of the ins and outs of the complicated, wonderful world of fashion and the Woolmark’s company’s key role involved throughout.
Craig Wilson’s career as a Merino consultant
Merino consultant Craig Wilson discusses the Peter Westblade scholarship and the great opportunities around Merino into the future. Also, hear from Beyond the Bale editor Richard Smith about his favourite stories and how to get your stories in Australia’s most read wool magazine.
Wool market update: Jan 2019
The wool market has started the year with strong demand followed by consolidation.
Given the ongoing drought, supply and what retail sales are doing in the key northern hemisphere winter, what can we expect this year for the wool market?
Hear from AWI trade consultant Scott Carmody and AWI graduate Ben Madgwick.
Flock to Baggy Green
450 donors have grown the next 100 years of baggy greens for the Australian cricket team.
Gideon Haigh, the country’s best cricket writer, discusses his book celebrating this historic project. We also meet Stephen Field, a cricket-mad woolgrower who explains why he loves the the game and the fibre.
Woolgrower, innovator and agriculture entrepreneur Nigel Kerin speaks about innovations in the wool industry and what new technology he is keen to implement into his business.
Who’s teaching the next gen about wool?
Catriona Nicholls and Madeline Scott have been the movers and shakers in getting the Learn About Wool resource in alignment with Australia’s school curriculum.
Teachers can lift the free resource straight from the website or order a full Learn About Wool kit and deliver lesson plans that focus on Australian wool that is specific for their class.
3D printing - could this lead to robotic shearing?
We all want to make shearing less labour intensive but how to actually achieve this has stumped many shearers, engineers and entrepreneurs. Researchers at the University of Technology, Sydney are taking an entirely novel approach by creating possibly the worlds first 3D printed sheep in their quest to solve the robotic shearing quandary.
Hear from shearing legend and AWI’s Shearing Industry Development Manager Jim Murray, as he walks us through the potential these young innovators are uncovering for the Australian wool industry.
Is the China-US trade war affecting our wool market?
The wool market has enjoyed a very strong run over the last 12 months with the benchmark eastern market indicator up about 25% year on year. But in recent weeks, uncertainty has crept into the market. Today we examine, in some detail, both the short and the long-term drivers in the wool market.
We speak with AWI Trade Consultant Scott Carmody about the factors driving the wool price and then we head to the US to hear from the President of the American Apparel and Footwear Association, Steve Lamar who reveals the ins and outs of the trade war between China and the US and how it could potentially affect the Australian wool market.
Woolgrowers from both sides of the world
Craig Heggaton from Kojonup in West Australia has a wool and sheep enterprise that has grown well beyond the woolshed and has a tip on keeping quality staff. Hear also from the manager of Tecka station in Argentina, a massive enterprise producing great fine Merino wool in a harsh climate.
What does industry think about WoolPoll?
Peta Slack-Smith, General Manager of Corporate Affairs at AWI interviewed a number of industry representatives at the consultation workshop organised by AWI this week.
Ed Storey, the Senior Vice President of Wool Producers Australia, Andrew Wood the Chair New South Wales Farmers Committee and President of the Wool Council and Alan Rae, the President of AgForce’s Sheep and Wool Board, reveal what they think about WoolPoll and the consultation process with AWI.
A humble shepherd and internationally acclaimed author
James Rebanks has become – unwittingly and unexpectedly – a house hold name. His book The Shepherd’s Life has been read by thousands, maybe millions of people, but first and foremost he is a shepherd from the north of England in Matterdale, Cumbria.
James spoke at the 2018 LambEx conference in Perth about his experience as a shepherd and we caught up with him afterward to capture some of his wisdom for The Yarn.
Many of Australia’s woolgrowers have been dealing with drought for many months, others are now slipping into it.
What help is at hand and what advice do the experts offer in terms of the key decisions that have to be made about stock, feed and finances?
Woolmark Performance Challenge
As the inaugural Woolmark Performance Challenge charges on with some of the best millennial minds in the textile performance wear space, we speak with some of the finalists whose ideas and innovations have impressed the judges so much so that they are through to the next round of the Challenge.
Hosted in partnership with The Woolmark Company and sportswear giant adidas, the Challenge includes a two-day workshop to inspire and build capacity within these finalists before their final presentation at Outdoor Retailer, the largest outdoor sports expo and conference in the USA.
IWP designer making waves
Her environmentally conscious philosophy creates an aura around the clothing of BODICE STUDIO and is causing a swell in the fashion world, but International Woolmark Prize womenswear winner Ruchika Sachdeva says she doesn’t follow trends, rather her clothes are built to weather the natural changes of a lifetime.
New WoolQ Functionality
With three new functions now available on the WoolQ platform, doors are opening to new opportunities for all in the Australian wool industry. Listen in to find out what opportunities are opening for you.
The challenge of growing wool in Africa
Every country presents different challenges for wool growers and for South Africans, big cats and mining are two very large issues wool growers must face.
Scott Nicholson has taken up the Nuffield scholarship with both hands and is leading the charge in finding new ways to bring technology on-farm, whilst learning some great life lessons along the way.
Barking up the right tree
We speak with four industry representatives, Geoff Power, Karen Huskinson, Scott Pickering and Chris Patmore, about their role in wild dog control and what the future holds for the sheep and wool industry.
Another Record High
Staggering results were achieved at Australian wool auctions this week.
But what are the factors involved in the EMI achieving both daily and weekly EMI records?
Social license, what is it to the wool industry?
The Australian Wool industry is built on long standing trust and reputation for quality, but how easily could this be destroyed? Listen to Charlie Arnot at LambEx 2018 as he breaks down what’s needed to keep the industry on top.
Our farming future with robots
From Lambex 2018: taking advantage of digital disruption.
Melissa Clarke-Reynolds is a digital strategist, foresight practitioner, maths geek and Beef and Lamb NZ independent director.
What sort of opportunities exist for sheep and woolgrowers in the brave new digital world.
Cockies head back to school
Do you have trouble with your weaners? Are your rams at peak performance? Are your ewes performers or passengers?
New workshops designed to boost your on-farm productivity are rolling out across the country. Find out about them here.
AFL superstars, West Coast Eagles captain Shannon Hurn and Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe pair up for wool!
We catch them at a Fibre of Football photoshoot to hear about their connection to farming and the wool industry.
The blueprint of fly genomes and lamb survival
Two researchers tackle the big issues in the sheep and wool industry.
Breech Flystrike RD & E Technical Update
A full run down of AWI’s recent Breech Flystrike RD & E Technical Update. Hear from an organiser, speaker and attendee recapping the day’s proceedings.
Where is the industry heading?
We speak to two CEOs within the industry and get their take on where we need to invest to ensure the future of the wool industry.
Review OF Performance
Hear from AWI’s CEO Stuart McCullough as he speaks about the recommendations made in the Review of Performance and the next steps for the operation of the AWI.
- Strong days for wool: make the most of it: how?
- Can and will the market continue at current levels?
- Tech: its here and now, hear what digital technologies will shape wool enterprises in the next decade
Robotic shearing: can it become a reality?
- The holy grail of the wool industry: the quest begins again.
- Hear from leading robotic and shearing experts from the most recent workshop
- Why peeling bananas may be part of the breakthrough.
Connecting the dots
What do retailers and brands really think about the wool industry? AWI’s Kelly McAvoy, Sam Cockedey and Peta Slack-Smith brought some of the biggest names in the industry Down Under to find out.
Sexed Semen – intrigued? You should be
It’s used in the cattle industry, but can it be applied to the sheep industry? This project will discover whether selecting for sex is viable in the sheep industry.
Why Wool? Behind the scenes of Wool Week
Australia celebrates arguably our finest export through The Woolmark Company’s Wool Week.
Step behind the scenes and hear the passion behind the 2018 campaign.
Wild days for wool
- The wool market is in extremely rare territory with the benchmark EMI lapping at $20/kg as predicted by the AWI CEO last year.
- Hear why the market is so high, the true drivers of the trade and the latest trade news from China and beyond.
- What does the future hold for what is now seen as a versatile, natural and sustainably produced fibre?
The National Merino Challenge
Australia’s leading educational competition for young people interested in the wool industry.
Where is Lesotho?
Communal farming of flocks and rangelands, the average flock is just 200 but the Merino is so valued it is a “preferred” species according to the Lesotho government.
Two Merino women with very different viewpoints.
Hear from two very passionate woolgrowers: an Argentinian and New Zealander about growing wool and balancing work and life.
Young woolgrowers embarked on a study tour of China.
This is what they thought of the world’s biggest manufacturer of Australian wool.
Making headway with scanning
Dr Kim Bunter of the University of New England explains her breakthrough work in scanning for foetus age.
This is some of the most exciting work in scanning since the technology developed for sheep in the 1980s.
South American Merinos
The World Merino conference in Uruguay
Australian genetics in South America
What it is like running Merinos in Patagonia, Argentina
Marathon runners Won With Wool
Wool has been placed at the front and centre of one of the world’s most prestigious running events: The Boston Marathon. Hear about how wool performs as experienced by four first time runners.
Ewe are what ewe eat
Charles Sturt University (CSU), Professor Michael Friend and PhD student Forough Ataollahi explain their project through the Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation investigating supplementing ewes to increase lamb survival.
The global reach of Australian wool
The Woolmark Company is the global authority when it comes to marketing Australian wool. So what does this actually entail? Hear from key international staff members about what they do to promote Australian wool.
WoolQ: the digital future for wool selling
Will Wilson, Chair of WoolQ explains its launch, functionality and future.
The platform will roll out across 2018: hear what it all means.
Young wool optimists
The Breeding Leadership program brings young people in the wool industry together to build their business and communication skills to arm them for a future in the industry.
Emily King sat down with Jayde Cluff, Roy Elliot, Alex House and Oliver Vidor to discuss their experience of the course and their thoughts for the future of wool and their role in it.
Australia’s biggest sheep experiment: the MLP
Big data meets the sheep industry with the Merino Lifetime Productivity project but what will it mean? Hear how this ground-breaking project is opening genetic doors for the first time.
Wool and Sport
From AFL and rugby union, cricket, running and skiing ... wool and sport are a match made in heaven. Hear why these markets are growing for wool and the celebration of these links.
Chinese supermodel/designer visits farm
What does Lu Yan make of woolgrowing and how will this change her business?
Runway Wool – The International Woolmark Prize
From traditional Indian recycling practises to avalanche tracking NFC chip technology in water resistant wool, this year’s winners went above and beyond the judge’s expectations.
Has wool finally cracked the US market?
Hear from major retailers and their associations about why wool is winning in this vital global market and why AWI keeps them regularly informed about how Australian farmers care for their animals.
- Wool as a $20 fibre: how, why and maybe when. Hear AWI CEO speak about the future of wool.
- AWI has a new Director, how will the first woolbroker elected change AWI?
- A pasture mystery solved!!! Now science and collaboration won a pasture war.
Provenance: we hear a lot about it but what is it exactly and what does it mean for wool?
This episode explores two very different examples of provenance with two wool growers who have their wool and their wool story, sold at retail.
- Steven Read (Michell) and Louis de Beer (Cape Wools in South Africa) at Nanjing wool conference; where is the market heading?
- The coolest Japanese design and retail team; Facetasm visit woolgrowing farms for the first time..what do they make of where wool comes from?
The business of wool
- Nadia Bartel, digital fashion star and businesswoman talks wool
- Electronic tagging on sheep properties: making it work
- Woolmark Country Manager: China talks business and marketing
- Global Strategic Adviser Peter Ackroyd with a warning on the current state of the wool market.
- Shavran Reddy, Indian Woolmark ambassador comes to Australia
- Hong Kong: a fashion hub as textile centre
- Its Ewe Time: how one woolgrower is trying yo take her wool enterprise to the next level.
- Icicle: a new age Chinese brand live streaming from the farm
- Meet the US flat bed knitting company with one hell of a customer resume of those who use wool.
- Meet AWI’s new general manager of research … you may already know Dr jane Littlejohn, she is fired up about digital.
- Taking woolgrowers to retail and back … wool in its final form at the Australian Sheep and Wool Show.
- The structure and workings of AWI: it’s not personal, its business: hear it from the company secretary.
- Megan Rogers explains the game-changing lifetime ewe app .. now with iCloud.
- Tom Tourle: a young woolgrowers perspective on opportunity.
- Why classic Italian style is big in Beijing.
- Pitti Uomo in Italy: Australian wool shines and shows the way.
- A wireless farm: monitor stock and water and so cheaply.
- Educating the next wool processing specialists in China: how?
- Travel the world and follow your wool passion with Nuffield: Tim Gubbins and Merino lamb survival.
- Woolworkers run the ruler over AWI.
- AWI CEO talks next step for the Wool Exchange Portal.
- Japanese wool processing giant Itochu speaks about the huge opportunity and the threat to Merino lambs wool.
- A UK Merino producer ..what?
- AFL Legend Kevin Sheedy speaks with The Yarn about the country, but can he shear?
- Is the current wool market sustainable? Let’s hear what the experts say.
- What are market analysts saying about when to sell and when to lock in?
- The next generation of woolgrowers, what excites them about wool and sheep?
- Luxury brand Burberry speaks about Australian wool after a week long sourcing tour.
- Hear what the next gen of woolgrowers want for a profitable industry.
- AWI Chairman Wal Merriman addresses recent issues raised in Senate Estimates.
- Woolgrower groups speak after consultation.
- The world's largest sheep experiment: MLP.
- Wool in Turkey: Naturally Inspiring education day.
- From the vast Australian outback to the snow capped peaks of the Himalayas, hear how crucial Australian Merino wool is to people at both ends of the wool industry.
- Young woolgrowers returning from a tour of Chinese processing mills, what do they think of the future?
- Wild dogs: the commitment Queensland woolgrowers have to protecting their sheep flocks is amazing.
- Hear from the man who has dressed the Indian Prime Minister and Indian cricket captain in wool.
- Paul Swan explains why the Merino Lifetime productivity Project excites him so much.
- Naturally Inspiring: a leading light from London
Why is wool so good for athletes?
When selling wool to consumers, it's all about offering more. Find out why the global sports brand ADIDAS loves wool. We also head to Hong Kong to meet a hugely successful Chinese designer, who can't get enough of the world's best fibre.
If you've got any questions or stories you'd like us to answer or cover, email email@example.com
- The wool market has started 2017 with a bang; what are the drivers in the market and can it last?
- The International Woolmark Prize; hear from the winners directly about how they have discovered wool.
- Korea, a big market for Australian wool. What new products are available there.
- Measurement is a key feature of any woolgrowing business, so how does AWI measure it’s success?
- Reaching thousands of students every year, hear from a quiet achiever in the wool education department.
- Beyond the Bale, for the first time ever, we hear from its long term editor.
- AWI Chairman Wal Merriman makes his global podcasting debut.
- Lars Ulvesund explains how and why wool has become a staple in active outdoor and sports brands.
- Bit tips on where wool prices will go in 2017 from someone very close to the action.
- Telling wool’s great story to the world: the importance of provenance
- woolgrower networks, what is their real value
- AWI CEO discusses how animal activists are combatted
- Exchanging wool online: the absolute must haves for the Wool Exchange Portal.
- President of the International Wool Textile Organisation bullish in a British way about wool.
- One of the most important people in wool you have never heard of: what do they do?
- The word from China: introducing Holly Ho
- What do woolgrowers think of AWI’s work?
- Young opportunities with the National Merino Challenge
- International Woolmark Prize winners amazed with woolgrowing
- Superfine wool amazing treatment of skin conditions
- Genomic technology fighting Luci
- AWI CEO reports on the latest news from retailers in Europe.
- Woolgrowers in Milan: why do we invest in fashion?
- WA woolgrowers succeed with novel feed.
- The fifth stand of a shearing shed: a secret to attracting the best shearers.