Wool’s supply and retail chain is facing difficulties. A glut of shopping space, stores and websites are chasing sales at a time when business costs are constantly rising while demand is not. Chinese textile mills have been scaling down their buying orders and processing activities since April. Domestic shoppers in China, who consume half that country’s processed wool, are spending less, and European and North American demand has also slowed this year leaving mounting stocks of unsold product in wool’s pipeline.
Australian wool growers have had to cope with the devastating impact of climate change and the ongoing drought. Most of the world’s merino wool is produced on dryland farms which are completely dependent on natural rainfall. Higher raw wool prices are the only saving grace for many who are spending heavily on feeding their flocks. Wool sheep farming is a lifelong commitment and many industry members have been working in wool all their professional lives. Most farmers are third or fourth generation, some with family farm histories reaching back much further.
The ongoing pollution of waterways and precious land resources by the fast-fashion model and the manmade fiber industry has left consumers with a serious moral dilemma. Wool has natural durability with the wool fiber being able to bend 20,000 times before breaking.