After years of losing market share to synthetic fabrics in the performance apparel, outerwear and footwear markets, demand for wool is surging, as are its prices.   Growth is being led by a general movement toward sustainability and the use of natural fibers in performance apparel, as well as trends in knit footwear styles, where wool is a popular fiber choice.

But supply of wool is severely constrained and unable to scale quickly.  According to Australian Wool Innovation Ltd., which represents 24,000 growers in the country that supplies about ninety percent of all wool to the apparel industry, “There is no easy way of getting substantial growth in the wool market,” offered AWI Chief Executive Officer Stuart McCullough. Citing infrastructure constraints from farmers, McCullough said, “We will see it tick along at 2 percent to 5 percent growth over the next significant period.”

You don’t need to be an economist to know that high demand and low supply means higher prices.   After increasing thirty percent in 2017, wool prices reached an all-time in high this Spring at just north of AU$18 per kilo (~US$14).  Lionel Plunkett, Senior Analyst at the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) last week said the Australian Wool Market is heading into its traditional Autumn quiet period and offered, “the slowdown in wool receipt, combined with the historically low amount of wool being held in brokers stores, have buyers concerned about securing quantity. These concerns have contributed to a high level of buyer demand…pushing prices up across the entire Merino spectrum and across all types and descriptions.”

As a fiber that naturally wicks moisture, DRYV has tested the use of wool in several licensee programs.  Our advice for those prospective licensees – be ready to charge a premium!