Peak woolgrower representative body WoolProducers Australia is the recipient of a grant to investigate the feasibility of domestic and diversified early-stage wool processing.
The grant will fund a project titled Ensuring a sustainable Australian Wool Industry through market diversification andrisk mitigation, issued under the Australian Trade and Market Access Cooperation (ATMAC) program, was announced by Minister Littleproud today.
WoolProducers CEO, Ms Jo Hall said, “Talking to woolgrowers from around the country, one thing that is continuously raised is the desire to process wool domestically”.
“There is strong appeal to reinvigorate early-stage wool processing on home soil as it appears to tick so many boxes, including regional jobs, Emergency Animal Disease risk mitigation, market diversification and adding pre-export value to our agricultural products to name a few, however as an industry we need to ensure that it is feasible to do so”.
The project will undertake a feasibility study that will be undertaken in two-parts, the first being an economic assessment of domestic processing.
Ms Hall said, “The feasibility study will not only be looking at the potential economic benefits of domestic processing, but also what barriers exist in re-establishing this sector, including things like energy and labour costs, water availability and innovation opportunities to address these barriers”.
The second part will assess opportunities to develop or enhance processing capacity in diversified onshore and offshore locations.
“This part of the study will look to identify opportunities to diversify early-stage processing supply chains through the development or enhancement of early-stage wool processing. This will include assessment of tariff and regulatory barriers and integration with other textile supply chain operations. It will also explore opportunities to split early stage ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ processing between domestic and offshore locations”. Ms Hall said.
The study will aim to investigate market diversification options that will complement existing markets to ensure a sustainable wool industry.
Ms Hall said, “WoolProducers started looking into this concept in late 2020 and has put enormous effort into securing this grant”.
“We identified early on in the process that the critical choke point in wools long supply chain is early stage scouring, carbonising and top-making, so we focused our energies on seeking funding to thoroughly assess this proposition”.
A tender process will be undertaken in the coming months to engage independent consultants to conduct this study. The work of the project will be guided via a steering committee that will comprise of industry members and service providers from across the Australian supply chain.
“WoolProducers are very excited to be able to definitively determine if it is possible to scale-up Australia’s wool processing capacity through this grant.”
“We would like to thank Minister Littleproud and the ATMAC program of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, for providing the funding for this important work.” Ms Hall said.