Chi­nese wool part­ners mark 50yrs

Great Southern Herald - - News - Bob Gar­nant

Chi­nese con­sumers are now favour­ing nat­u­ral, long-last­ing gar­ments. Stu­art McCul­lough

Cel­e­bra­tions are in or­der for more than 50 years of Aus­tralia and Chi­nese wool trade re­la­tions.

This bind­ing part­ner­ship has China as the big­gest cus­tomer of Aus­tralian wool, buy­ing up to 80 per cent of its pro­duc­tion.

To­day, Aus­tralia ex­ports 271 mil­lion kilo­grams of the nat­u­ral, re­new­able and biodegrad­able fi­bre to China, rep­re­sent­ing a sharp rise from pre-1980 when this fig­ure was less than 10 mil­lion kg.

Once a man­u­fac­tur­ing hub, China in re­cent years has also fast become a big con­sumer of lux­ury ap­parel.

The Chi­nese tex­tile and ap­parel mar­ket is worth a stag­ger­ing $2.76 bil­lion as part of China’s trans­for­ma­tion into a global pow­er­house af­ter its de­ci­sion to open up to the in­ter­na­tional econ­omy.

With 1.4 bil­lion peo­ple driv­ing a new con­sumer cul­ture and an econ­omy grow­ing at more than 7 per cent an­nu­ally, China is chang­ing, but what en­dures is the coun­try’s vast ap­petite and pas­sion for Aus­tralian Merino wool and its deeply com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship with Aus­tralian wool­grow­ers.

A del­e­ga­tion of Chi­nese me­dia, in­dus­try and in­flu­encers vis­ited Aus­tralia in May, not only to ex­pe­ri­ence the ori­gin of this fine fi­bre but also to cel­e­brate the spe­cial bond be­tween the two coun­tries.

Through host­ing del­e­ga­tions like these to Aus­tralia, The Wool­mark Com­pany and Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion aim to ex­pose emerg­ing con­sumer mar­kets to Aus­tralian wool and broaden con­sumer choice in in­no­va­tive wool gar­ments.

In ad­di­tion, a com­mem­o­ra­tive book sharing per­sonal sto­ries from in­dus­try stal­warts and those shap­ing its fu­ture has been pro­duced.

AWI chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art McCul­lough said China con­tin­ued to be the sin­gle most im­por­tant buyer of Aus­tralian wool.

“I first started trav­el­ling to China as a wool trader in the late-1980s and was con­vinced from an early stage that the Aus­tralian wool in­dus­try was go­ing to sig­nif­i­cantly ben­e­fit from the pro­cess­ing ca­pac­ity of China,” he said. “What evolved across the next 30 years ex­ceeded any ex­pec­ta­tion and China has become not only a pro­cess­ing pow­er­house but a con­sump­tion gi­ant.”

Mr McCul­lough said the do­mes­tic con­sump­tion of our fi­bre was driven by the emer­gence of great af­flu­ence in China, which would con­tinue to grow.

“Not only have we the per­fect pro­cess­ing part­ner on our doorstep but we also have the per­fect con­sump­tion part­ner,” he said.

“With in­creased af­flu­ence and a ten­dency to­wards lead­ing health­ier life­styles, dis­cern­ing Chi­nese con­sumers are now favour­ing nat­u­ral, long-last­ing gar­ments, more so than fol­low­ing the lat­est trends per­pet­u­ated by fast fash­ion.”

Mr McCul­lough said as a pre­mium and lux­u­ri­ous nat­u­ral fi­bre, Aus­tralian Merino wool was one of the most cov­eted fi­bres in high fash­ion in China.

“Un­til re­cently, China’s fash­ion con­sump­tion mar­ket was dom­i­nated by the big lux­ury brands and their lo­gos, but as a more so­phis­ti­cated and nu­anced Chi­nese con­sumer has emerged so, too, have home-grown Chi­nese de­signer brands,” he said.

Aus­tralian Merino wool is the per­fect fi­bre for the modern Chi­nese con­sumer.

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