Digital divide in wool push
AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation’s new digital selling system is set to go live from July next year despite concerns from wool brokers and buyers.
AWI unveiled an information website on its Wool Exchange Portal, renamed WoolQ, at its annual general meeting on Friday as the wool market lifted to a new record.
The Eastern Market Indicator lifted 2 cents a kilogram to close the week at 1683c/kg clean following massive gains in the past two weeks.
Initial set-up costs for Wool Q are estimated at $3.6 million and building began in September following approval by the AWI board.
It came as WEP working group chairman Will Wilson was unsuccessful in his bid for a place on the AWI board, while NSW wool broker Don Macdonald, who has questioned the WEP proposal, earned a spot with the secondhighest number of votes.
The WoolQ portal is designed to increase competition and transparency in wool selling, with 92 per cent of the clip currently sold through the open-cry system.
The portal will also allow growers to gather and analyse their data in one place and communicate more easily with other growers, their brokers and potentially with buyers.
Concerns have been raised by Australian Wool Exchange, which manages wool sales.
Its concerns focus on possible duplication and storage of data.
Wool broker and buyer associations are yet to offer their full support for the project.
Mr Macdonald said while he was not against the online portal he had raised issues about its implementation thus far.
“There’s been little collaboration with brokers and buyers,” he said.
“We still don’t fully know what the end result is going to be. There’s a lot of grey areas, and you can’t sign off on grey areas.”
AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said AWI received more than 110 public submissions during consultation for its 2014 wool-selling system review, from which the WEP was born.
WoolProducers Australia chief executive Jo Hall said the organisation was supportive of the portal, but it had “mixed support” in the supply chain.