Since December, Australian Merino wool prices in US$ have lifted by between 3% and 21%, with the most significant increases seen for 21-23 micron wools. Fine and superfine wools (i.e. 19 micron and finer) have seen more modest increases of 3% to 5%, because they had experienced strong rises throughout 2017. Broader wools from Australia (such as 28 micron) have seen prices lift by 20% after languishing for some time. At the same time, prices for the main competing fibres of cotton, acrylic and polyester are up by 5% to 6%.
As a result of these relative changes, the price premium for superfine wool (e.g. 18 micron wool) over these other competing fibres have slid back from the recent peaks. They remain historically very high, but not at the extreme, record levels of just a few months ago. However, the price premium for 21 micron wool reached an all-time peak in February. For the broader wools, the price premiums are rising albeit slowly.
Further details including charts showing the trends in the price ratios for 18 micron, 21 micron and 28 micron wool compared with synthetics and with cotton are provided in the full version of the NCWSBA Weekly Newsletter, available to NCWSBA members.