Interior accolades for wool

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Wool has come of age and its sustainable versatility is aiming to blend with modern living products to attract more retail sales.

With Australia's changing wool clip, the challenge remains to keep innovation to the fore so wool products are a part of consumers' everyday lifestyle.

As noted in the December Australian Wool Innovation Market Intelligence Report, there has been an increase in non-Merino wool, which now stands at 17.6 per cent of the Australian wool clip.

As the total wool clip continues to shrink - the latest Australian Wool Production Forecasting Committee report expects a further decline by 7 per cent to 322 million kilograms - the most dramatic reduction has been in medium wools.

The AWPFC's forecast clip decline reflected a combination of a 4.8 per cent fall in shorn sheep numbers and a 2.3 per cent drop in average fleece weights.

AWI said the production of 21-micron wools had been reduced by more than 70 per cent since 1991-92 and 22-micron wools had fallen further by 85 per cent.

"The fact that non-Merino wool production has not dropped to the same dramatic extent as medium-micron wools means its proportion of the clip has increased significantly," an AWI spokesman said.

"Much is made of the marketing efforts surrounding Merino wools, but it is worth noting the efforts of key markets to lift demand for broader wools also."

In January, the world's largest interior textile trade show, Heimtextile, takes place in Germany.

"The Woolmark Company has had a significant presence at this event, helping companies selling wool-rich household products in this area such as blankets, doonas, carpets and pillows," the AWI spokesman said.

"To complement this, AWI's interior Wool Lab is displayed, showcasing new trends and samples of textile innovations for wool and these will be seen by many thousands of potential manufacturers and retailers."

AWI said it is also important to note the HRH Prince of Wales Campaign for Wool, now launched in more than a dozen countries since 2010, has promoted all wool.

"Commonly, the message of the campaign has been the sustainable versatility of wool for modern living and broader wool used in furniture covering and the extensive range of wool bedding products have been a significant part of this very successful program," the spokesman said.

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