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Quality schemes volumes – an update

Readers have been asking about quality scheme volumes, trends and price effects. This article has a look at recent volumes and trends in volumes for the key quality schemes.

Mecardo looked at quality schemes operating in the Australian greasy wool market in March. That article is a primer to this article, and we will not repeat the content, except to say there is considerable overlap in accreditation between schemes at the sale lot level. In this article we have focussed on the three main schemes which focus on non-mulesed wool.

Figure 1 shows the proportion of merino fleece sold this season (to last week) which has been accredited to Authentico, RWS and SustainaWool quality schemes. Some 6.9% of merino fleece sold (clean basis) has been accredited to SustainaWOOL, 3.5% to Authentico and 1.3% to RWS. To put that in some perspective around 10% of the merino fleece sold this season had non-mulesed status, 4% ceased mulesed status and 44% with AA (analgesic and/or anaesthetic) status.

The proportion of total merino fleece sold is misleading in a sense that the proportion varies greatly with fibre diameter. Figure 2 shows the proportion of merino fleece sold by micron category for this season (to date) for the three quality schemes. As for non-mulesed status, the proportion of merino fleece accredited increases as the fibre diameter decreases.  For example some 25% of 16 micron wool sold has been accredited to SustainaWOOL, 14% to Authentico and 5% to RWS. By contrast the proportion of 21 micron merino fleece accredited is less than 2% for each of the schemes. As noted in the March article the big merino categories by volume still have low rates of accreditation to these schemes, which restricts the development of demand along the supply chain.

What trends are evident in the take up of these schemes? Figure 3 shows the monthly proportions of merino fleece sold this season (to last week) for each of the schemes. Arguably there is a gentle rising trend for RWS, but in general there is little in the way of trends for these proportions for the 2020-21 season. Out of auction sales may reveal a different picture and such sales could have a significant effect on the auction volumes shown here, as they are quite low.

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What does it mean?

Australian sheep farmers have demonstrated in the past three decades that they can make significant changes to production fairly quickly. They tend to make such changes in response to an economic stimulus. Quality scheme volumes are not rising quickly (quite slowly at best) as farmers are yet to identify sufficient reasons to do so.

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Key Points

  • The proportions of merino fleece accredited to the main non-mulesed focussed quality schemes have not appeared to change greatly during this season.
  • The volume of these schemes will be limited by the proportion of the clip which is declared as CM-NM, which is slowly trending higher.
  • The proportion of accreditation continues to vary greatly by micron category with the finer merino categories having quite high levels of accreditation.

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Click on figure to expand

Data sources: AWEX, ICS 

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