Wool tour to China
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...