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Wool Production Forecasts

Wool bales in shearing shed, Victoria

AWI forecasts Australian wool production volumes and qualities three times a year. National and State level committee structures use a consensus-based forecasting methods supported by industry data and grower survey information. Accurate forecasting of Australian wool production volumes is critical to the global trade, given Australia's dominance of global apparel wool production.

Production forecasts are published in this section with a Media Release. The full report is available as a downloadable PDF within the Media Release. The detailed report features the forecasts, historical data and commentary on the key drivers of the forecasts.

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Australian Wool Production Forecast Report August 2017

Friday, 25 August 2017

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) has revised its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2016/17 season to 339 million kilograms greasy, a 4.3% increase on the 2015/16 season and slightly higher than forecast at its December meeting.

     
 
  • The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee predicts that Australian shorn wool production in 2017/18 will be 340 mkg greasy. This is the same as the Committee’s estimate for production in 2016/17 and reflects a slight increase in the number of sheep shorn even though fleece weights are expected to slip slightly. The run of high Merino wool prices and strong lamb price levels also appear to be encouraging producers to retain sheep despite high mutton prices.
  • The Committee’s estimate of shorn wool production in 2016/17 is 340 mkg greasy, up by 4.7% on the 90-year low recorded in 2015/16. The increase is due mainly to higher wool cuts per head after the excellent seasonal conditions across Australia for some or all of the 2016/17 wool growing season.
 
     

 

The Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee (AWPFC) maintained its forecast of shorn wool production for the 2017/18 season at 340 million kilograms greasy, the same as its final estimate for production in 2016/17.

Committee Chairman, Russell Pattinson said that “after the excellent seasonal conditions experienced across Australia for some or all of 2016/17, conditions have become more mixed. Seasonal conditions in some regions including much of Victoria and the south-east of South Australia, are reported to be very good, but other areas, including parts of Western Australia, the Western Division of New South Wales and key wool growing regions in Queensland, have been dry. While fleece weights in Spring are likely to be good, there is likely to be a moderation in the average wool cuts per head in some areas as the season progresses. Overall, the season average wool cut per head is expected to slide by 1.2%. This contrasts with the 3.4% increase in average cut per head estimated for 2016/17.”

“This easing in average wool cut per head is likely to be almost entirely offset by a 1% increase in the number of sheep shorn during the 2017/18 season. This increase in the number of sheep shorn reflects a willingness of producers to shear sheep and lambs prior to sale or retain sheep in response to the run of high Merino wool prices. It also reflects to some extent a rise in the number of prem shorn sheep.”

The Committee estimates that shorn wool production in 2016/17 was 340 mkg greasy, an increase of 4.7% on the 90-year low of 325 mkg recorded in 2015/16 and slightly higher than its fourth forecast in April. This is a little less than the 5.3% increase in the weight of wool tested by AWTA in 2016/17. This difference reflects the reported release of on-farm stocks during the season, notably of superfine wool, in response to the sustained rise in Merino wool prices in 2016/17. The Committee's estimate for 2016/17 also compares with the 3.1% increase in first hand wool offered at auction in 2016/17 reported by AWEX and the 6.2% increase in wool receivals reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for 2016/17.

The Committee noted that the AWTA test data showed a significant increase in the weight of wool tested between 20 and 24 microns, an increase in the weight of 19 micron wool tested and declines in the volumes of 18.5 micron and finer wool. This in the main reflects the excellent seasonal conditions. There was also a fall in the volume of 26 to 28 micron wool but an increase in 30.6 and broader wool. As a result of these changes, the mean fibre diameter for Australia in 2016/17 was steady at 21.0 microns, the same as in 2015/16.

Table 1: Summary of wool production estimates and forecasts for Australia

Parameter 2015/16
Final
Estimate
2016/17
Final
Estimate
Change
y-o-y
(%)
2017/18
Second Forecast
Change
y-o-y
(%)
Sheep numbers shorn (million head) 73.4 74.3 +1.2% 75.0 +1.0%
Average cut per head (kg/head) 4.43 4.58 +3.4% 4.53 -1.2%
Shorn wool production
(mkg greasy)
325 340 +4.7% 340 +0.0%

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

Table 2: Total shorn wool production by state - 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18

mkg greasy NSW VIC WA SA TAS QLD NATIONAL
2015/16 Final Estimate (mkg) 122.9 66.1 65.2 54.8 9.1 6.9 325
2016/17 Final Estimate (mkg) 126.0 67.4 71.1 57.9 9.2 8.5 340
Change y-o-y % +2.6% +2.0% +9.1% +5.6% +1.5% +23.0% +4.7%
2017/18 Second Forecast 128.6 68.6 67.5 57.7 9.5 7.6 340
Change y-o-y % +2.1% +1.7% -5.0% -0.3% +3.6% -10.7% 0.0%

Note: Totals may not add due to rounding.

The National Committee drew on advice from the six State Committees, each of which includes growers, brokers, private treaty merchants, representatives from State Departments of Agriculture, and the Australian Wool Testing Authority. Data and input was also drawn from AWEX, wool exporters, the Australian Bureau of Statistics, ABARES, AWTA and Meat and Livestock Australia.

Download the full report here:

Australian Wool Production Forecast August 2017

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