Shutdowns at scouring factories in China were placing pressure on global wool markets and farmers would probably not make anything from their wool this season, other than covering shearing costs.
Alan Walsh, Texacloth, said Chinese companies were not currently ‘fighting amongst each other’ to get wool, putting downward pressure on global markets.
“When the couple of big buyers say it is time to buy wool and start placing orders, the others start to buy as well,” he said.
“But then they get too much stock and they slow down. It goes in swings and roundabouts, usually they come back into the market really quickly but it is not going to help with the scouring plants.”
Mr Walsh said China had been able to make products cheaper because the country had not been subject to the same rules and regulations, for example on effluent, as other countries.
“They are now starting to bring those in,” he said.
With the UK such a small player in the global markets, the industry was always going to be exposed to what was happening around the world.
“Prices will only ever be strong when New Zealand and Australia are going strong,” he said.
“The way to get British wool stronger is to try and use it in British products in the UK. That is not as easy as it sounds to do, there are countries where it is easy to do.”
The New Zealand and Australian industry had been successful by catering across the market place, whereas the UK was focused on wool as a luxury product, he said.
But the industry needed to appeal to people from all sections of society.
And, while British farmers were ‘stuck in the mindset’ of concentrating on meat production, New Zealand and Australia also focused on their wool.
Merino sheep were used widely in Australia, producing a finer wool which was more valuable than British cross breeds.
And in New Zealand, there was a focus on keeping cross breed wool ’cleaner’ aided by their environment.
But Mr Walsh suggested changing UK farmers’ mindsets to value wool, for example by introducing genetics from breeds such as Merinos into their flock, could help to boost returns.