Mohair, wool prices high due to shortage

Cindy Preller

IN the past two years the prices farmers have received for the sale of wool and mohair have been high, with a shortage experienced because of droughts, rift valley fever and vermin.

Despite the economic downturn in other industries, Cape Mohair and Wool (CMW) general manager Nuno Gomes said prices were “relatively high” for wool and mohair. This was driven by the demand for natural fibres against man-made fibres.

South Africa provides about 3% of the wool in the world market and 90% of the product gets exported.

More than 50% of the world’s mohair production is from South Africa and almost all of the raw mohair product being sold by CMW in Deal Party is exported to a fairly niche market, which accounts for smaller volumes but higher prices than wool.

“The biggest buyer of wool and mohair from CMW is China. The majority of the wool gets exported in its raw form while 90% of the mohair is semiprocessed locally before being shipped out,” Gomes said.

Australia was the biggest global roleplayer in determining prices of wool and establishing production levels for the next two to three years, he said.

“Despite the shortage of wool, it is no longer an essential commodity. The price difference between wool and synthetic products is growing bigger and bigger,” Gomes said.

The big cost difference between wool and synthetic products could force the market to buy the cheaper alternative, Gomes warned.

“However, the top-end fashion houses also determine the global demand for wool and mohair and they are ultimately the end clients of our products.”

Far removed from the fashion houses in Europe and the US, the nitty gritty of mohair and wool production may seem a bit less glamorous, with all aspects of wool and mohair production being dealt with by CMW.

CMW, which employs 700 workers across the country, takes responsibility for the wool and mohair from the shearing process on the farm to the minute it is loaded into containers for shipment overseas.

“We offer warehousing, sorting, grading, testing, and high-density compression of the wool and mohair. We do storage as well as a shipping service for our buying clients, on the premises. Regular auctions take place at the National Wool and Mohair Exchange conducted by CMW,” Gomes said.

Currently in the off-season, the opening wool auction takes place on August 21 and the opening mohair auction on August 13 and thereafter regular weekly auctions are held.

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