Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has published its 2017/2018 Annual Report, reporting a year highlighted by solid results with wool prices reaching record highs and strengthening demand for the natural fibre.
Outlining the journey of the organisation under his stewardship to shareholders, AWI Chairman Mr Wal Merriman highlighted the challenges the company has thrived through since 2004.
“2017/18 was an extremely good year for Australian woolgrowers, with the EMI rising by 36% from 1507c/kg at the end of June 2017 to 2056c/kg 12 months later,” Mr Merriman stated.
“This good year follows on from another positive year in 2016/17, when the EMI rose by 16% from 1297c/kg. It is important to note that supply increased in both these years. The price rises are clearly demand-driven and a result of AWI’s success in marketing, product development and the research and development space.
“Confidence has returned to the industry and producers who have shown commitment to wool are now taking advantage of the higher demand-driven wool prices.
“Let me be clear, AWI is acutely aware of its direct accountability to woolgrowers. It is wool levy payers that vote every three years at WoolPoll to determine the rate of wool levy they will pay to AWI; it is woolgrowers who have chosen to become AWI shareholders that directly elect Directors to the AWI Board; and AWI consults year-round with woolgrowers to identify their priorities and guide AWI’s activities.
“It is important to note, AWI’s Constitution was designed ‘fit for purpose’ to ensure accountability to all woolgrowers, not a few; and AWI Board members have responsibilities under the Corporations Act, making them accountable to shareholders of AWI.”
In his report to shareholders, AWI CEO Stuart McCullough explained 2017/18 was the second year covered by AWI’s current three-year strategic plan, a year that built on the healthy momentum established in the previous year.
“The robust prices we have seen are fundamentally a result of a strong and consistent demand for our fibre. Australian wool of all microns have performed well this year, while other competitive fibre prices remain relatively flat,” Mr McCullough shared.
“Our Marketing portfolio this year has continued to partner with premium brands and invest in targeted campaigns – through both digital and traditional channels – to help create demand for Australian wool amongst consumers in key markets across the world.
“The sports, outdoor and athleisure markets are especially exciting markets that are helping drive up demand for Merino wool. We have been increasingly collaborating with leading manufacturers and brands in these sectors to promote the premium natural benefits of wool as a performance fibre.
“Investment in R&D and extension by AWI in its Sheep Production and Woolgrower Services portfolios increased by 27% last year, delivering a range of outputs to help woolgrowers improve their on-farm productivity and profitability.
“In the off-farm R&D area, we have added to the growing number of research findings supporting the health and wellbeing benefits of wool products. We have also worked with leading brands such as adidas and Max Mara in new product developments.”