Wool tour to China

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - News -

YOUNG wool grow­ers from across Aus­tralia have re­turned from China with a changed per­spec­tive on the global wool in­dus­try.

Twelve young grow­ers par­tic­i­pated in a 15 day to China and Hong Kong to tour some of China’s big­gest man­u­factues of raw wool, gain­ing a greater un­der­stand­ing of the jour­ney Aus­tralian wool takes once ex­ported. The trip wa­sor­gan­ised be Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion. This is the third an­nual trip or­gan­ised by the group since 2016.

“There have been about 45 young wool grow­ers who have ben­e­fited from this trip so far,” tour or­gan­iser, Stuart Hodg­son said.

“The wool grow­ers pay their own way over and then the tours are or­gan­ised by the AWI of­fices in Shang­hai and Hong Kong.

“The ba­sis of it is to ex­pose the young wool grow­ers to the process in the in­dus­try.

“Most wool grow­ers just wave their wool good­bye at the gate so there’s not a lot of knowl­edge of what goes on in China and wher­ever else it’s be­ing pro­cessed.”

Mr Hodg­son said there was no set age limit to the young wool grow­ers tour.

“We se­lect the peo­ple from our ob­ser­va­tions. We travel around merino wool and sheep func­tions and peo­ple are rec­om­mended to us. We want peo­ple who are lead­ing peo­ple within their group,” he said.

“They are all ac­tive peo­ple within our in­dus­try whether they are on farms or with busi­nesses or at uni with the in­ten­tion of go­ing into the in­dus­try.

“They are peo­ple who can re­lay the in­for­ma­tion to their peers when they get back.”

The first man­u­fac­turer the group vis­ited was an early stage pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tion, Red Sun. Here raw wool is scoured and carded through an au­to­mated op­er­a­tion. The group then vis­ited the spin­ning pro­cess­ing plant To Xi­nao, en­cour­ag­ing in­no­va­tion in knitwear. The group also vis­ited the cir­cu­lar knit­ting mill Mengdi and ver­ti­cally in­te­grated fab­ric pro­cess­ing op­er­a­tion Nan­shan.

The Chi­nese wool pro­cess­ing and re­tail econ­omy is ex­tremely im­por­tant to Aus­tralia’s $3.6 bil­lion wool in­dus­try.

“China buy about 85 per cent of our raw wool. The wool in­dus­try is boom­ing in China,” he said.

“They (the young wool grow­ers) come home with a far bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what the wool in­dus­try is, and the mas­sive in­vest­ment and scale of the Chi­nese wool in­dus­try.

“Fifty per cent of the wool that goes to China stays do­mes­ti­cally, and it will only grow as the Chi­nese pop­u­la­tion grows and as China be­comes more af­flu­ent.” Mr Hodg­son said group stay busy on the tour.

“It’s full on but it’s worth it,” he said.

“In china we’re look­ing at mills ev­ery day, un­til we get to Hong Kong where we’re in the AWI of­fice for a full day of talks.” Mr Hodg­son said he thinks AWI will con­tinue to host the tour for the fore­see­able fu­ture.

“The wool in­dus­try in Aus­tralia is not a huge in­dus­try,” he said.

“But if we can get some of th­ese young wool grow­ers to in­ter­act and dis­cuss the dif­fer­ent prob­lems that they have.

“One of the most sat­is­fy­ing things for me was hear­ing them dis­cuss things on the buses as we trav­elled around.”

UN­DER­STAND­ING IN­DUS­TRY: (Back) Gary Cai, Jackie Chap­man, Felic­ity Brump­ton, Tom Perkins, Alex Lewis, Will McAlpine, Andrew Rin­toul, Stu Hodg­son, Nick Weed­ing, (front) Amy McIn­tosh, Bea Litch­field, Floyd Legge, Edith Gregory, Wendie Rid­g­ley and Brent...

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