The price of Shetland wool fell sharply at auction in Bradford earlier this month, with a considerable drop from the “extreme” prices of last year.
Premier quality and second grade wool were down to £1.76 per kilo compared to £2.30 last year, third grade wool was £0.94 per kilo, down from £1.41, Cheviot was £1.35, down from £1.65 and Cheviot cross dropped to £1.26 from £1.70.
The wool was sent to auction by the Wool Growers of Shetland Ltd co-operative. Business chairman Sir John Scott said: “Bids are down on the extreme prices of last year. We are encouraged by these realistic prices for our wool grades at auction. The keen demand for good quality clean fleeces from Shetland will foster breeding for fine wool by our producers.”
Prices quoted are gross prices from which overheads such as grading, shipping, insurance and the auctioneer’s fee would have to be deducted.
The co-operative was set up in 1981. Annually a sample of wool, this year seven tonnes, is sent for grading and sale at auction.
Meanwhile Jamieson & Smith (J&S) Shetland Wool Brokers managing director Oliver Henry reassured crofters that the auction will not affect 2013 wool prices. The company buys wool from most of Shetland’s producers and it is all sold on to the parent company Curtis Wool Direct in Yorkshire.
Mr Henry said: “J&S are major buyers of Shetland’s wool clip, purchasing from more than 700 crofters and farmers, which totals approximately 80 per cent of the wool produced locally.”
He added that Shetland did not come under the jurisdiction of the British Wool Marketing Board (BWMB). “As wool merchants outwith this organisation, J&S cannot purchase wool from outside Shetland. J&S have always been of the opinion that the BWMB should not be involved in handling Shetland wool.
“The wool sold in Bradford has no bearing on setting the price of wool purchased by J&S for the coming season. This has always been the case. Shetland has the unique position in Britain to market its wool in its own special way, compared to the huge volumes of UK wool on offer; almost two and a half million kilograms at the Bradford sale. It is not surprising that the relatively small amount of Shetland wool can lose its special identity and individuality when sold amongst this huge amount.
“During the last months of 2012, world wool prices dropped sharply. This was due to the fact that wool prices rose too fast and there was a reaction from the end user which led to a reduction in the use and purchase of wool products.
“At J&S we guarantee to pay the same prices as last season and endeavour to improve them. The reason we are able to do this is through a wide range of Real Shetland Wool products such as duvets, beds, carpets, throws and new ranges of worsted yarns along with Curtis Wool Direct and associates The Real Shetland Company, Vi-Spring and Shetland Amenity Trust. Through diversifying into high quality products we are adding value to the wool clip.”
Mr Henry said new products were due to be launched and the company would make “good use” of all the wool it could get.