Online selling platform endorsed

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeThe West Australian
Kojonup farmer Neil Jackson was part of the wool exchange portal working group formed by Australian Wool Exchange.
Camera IconKojonup farmer Neil Jackson was part of the wool exchange portal working group formed by Australian Wool Exchange. Credit: Countryman

The digital evolution of wool selling in Australia continues, with plans for an online platform now set in stone.

Australian Wool Exchange’s wool exchange portal working group this week endorsed the construction and implementation of the system.

It is not expected to replace the open cry auction systems at Fremantle, Sydney and Melbourne, but it will add more options for selling and information.

AWE formed the working group in 2014 to consult industry about the potential for an online selling portal.

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Group chairman Will Wilson said a business case had identified $38 million in industry benefits during the first 15 years of the digital selling platform’s life.

He said the new system would improve pricing and competition within the wool selling system and provide industry with a one-stop port for buying and selling.

“The group has proposed to now engage current online commodity market operators to help develop the portal and has already received proposals from 10 potential vendors,” Mr Wilson said.

“It is anticipated that a subset of the group will remain intact to act as a steering committee to provide direction to an internal wool exhange portal project team.”

Working group support for the tool was announced at AWI’s annual general meeting in November.

Its confirmation came as Chinese wool tycoon Qingan Wen announced he had formed a wool grower group to circumvent the Australian auction system.

At the recent China Wool Industrial Association’s wool salon in Victoria, Mr Wen told media a group of 10 woolgrowers would supply China directly. It is part of a 1000-bale trial set to be negotiated with contracts throughout a three to 10-year period.

Mr Wen is China’s biggest wool top maker and scourer and owns major manufacturing company Tianyu Wool.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association president Tony Seabrook said private treaties for wool buying did not currently present a threat to the auction system.

“There’s nothing new in that, private treaty sales have been going on all of my life,” he said.

“The strength in the auction system is determined by the number of buyers there. If we people start withdrawing it may result in lower prices at auction but it may mean a better price for them.”

Last year, AWI completed its Wool Selling Systems Review, which examined opportunities for innovation from the farm gate to the ship’s rail.

It found many of the issues raised by the 90-plus submissions could be addressed with an online wool exchange portal.

AWI chairman Wal Merriman thanked the members of the wool exchange portal working group for their diligent work through a long process of consultation and consensus. The group included Mr Wilson, Mark Rodda, Peita Piper, Robert Lawrence, Neil Jackson, Tony Flannery, Ed Storey, Steve Hill, Tim Marwedel and representatives from other relevant groups.

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