Shetland wool brokers Jamieson & Smith has announced that prices it pays to local producers will rise by an average of 90 per cent across all grades this year.
The company, which buys the vast majority of Shetland’s clip, said the rise builds on a similar increase last year, taking the highest price to £2.50 per kilo for the superior coloured fleece of pure bred Shetland sheep.
This means that for the first time, the price for some grades now exceeds the often cited “pound for a pound” paid for wool in the mid 20th century, before the introduction of mass manufactured synthetic fibres.
Even among the roughest grades of wool, the price has risen by up to 160 per cent, meaning the lowest price per kilo is 80p.
The increase has been achieved through focused promotion and product development by Jamieson & Smith and its Yorkshire-based parent company Curtis Wool Direct to raise the profile of Shetland wool throughout the world fibre market.
This has seen the product achieve international recognition through The Campaign for Wool, an industry project convened by HRH the Prince of Wales, and locally via the Shetland Amenity Trust’s Fine Lace Project.
News of the increase will be a welcome boost to Shetland’s crofters and farmers. The continued improvement in prices will help counter the steep decline in Shetland’s sheep numbers – a trend that has led to a shortage of coloured wool in particular.
Jamieson & Smith managing director Oliver Henry said: “Our main aim is to do our part in sustaining and building the textiles and crofting industries associated with the Shetland wool clip. We are able to offer continued increased prices because of the sustained high level of demand for all types of wool from Shetland.
“This quality demand has mainly been achieved through our work to raise awareness of the inimitable properties of the wool from pure bred Shetland sheep that are born and bred in Shetland, which goes in to our yarns for individual hand-knitters and knitwear designers.
“The result is that all types of wool originating in Shetland have become an internationally recognised and celebrated niche product, most notably used in luxury mattresses by the world’s top bedmaker, Vi-Spring. We are delighted that we can pass the rewards on to our number one priority – Shetland’s farmers and crofters.”