Falkland Islands producers have cause for celebration this season with wool prices at an all time high.
Robert Hall of wool agents Falkland Wool Growers Ltd told Mercopress, “Prices have substantially improved this season. For example, gross UK prices for 25 micron combing fleece wool are 640 pence per kilo in 2011, compared to 390 pence per kilo in 2010 and 208 pence per kilo in 2001.”
Falkland Wool Growers are obtaining the highest ever gross prices, however Mr Hall noted “bear in mind the greatly increased costs and inflation faced by farmers over the last few decades”.
He said, “There has been tremendous demand from some specialty customers requiring high yielding, low vegetable matter fleece wool in the mid-microns. Generally prices are fairly close to those achieved in Australia.
Causes are three fold: reduced supplies, good demand especially from the Far East and competing fibers (natural and man-made) have greatly increased in value over the last 18 months.”
Falklands wool has substantially declined in volume over the last 15 years said Mr. Hall, “…however improvements through importations of sheep genetics and sheep breeding and selection have made the Falklands clip significantly finer. Top quality fleece preparation and classing ensures that Falklands’ wool is a world class product”.
Farmer Sheila McPhee of Kingsford Valley Farm on East Falklands said, “This is definitely the best year we’ve ever had.”
As a result Sheila and husband Terrance have been able to invest funds in new rams from the Falklands national stud flock .The couple have farmed Kingsford Valley for almost fifteen years and in that time, through artificial insemination and ET, they have changed over to a more lucrative dual purpose breed – in their case the Dohne merino.
Sheila said, “We produce meat for the abattoir (meat prices are high in the Falklands) but have also invested heavily in wool – we’ve dropped five micron in six years.”
The couple’s farming practices have also increased their lambing percentage from under 50% in the early years to almost 83%.
“When we first started we were delighted to achieve 500 lambs, now we are getting over 1,650.”
The pair are also producing lambs for the abattoir of up to 50 kilograms in weight.
Mr. Hall had a note of caution however, “There are increasing signs of price resistance.”
According to the Wool Record Weekly last week, “Buyers for China continued to dominate, with pressure from India and Europe, however, experts believe some key buyers may have held back in the market today due to concerns over financing, which is expected considering the extremely high prices increased so far this season”.
By Lisa Watson – SeAledPR - Stanley