China trip an eye-opener for Kybybolite wool grower

Kybybolite wool grower Mark Kester touring the Open Top Textile Co-operative plant in Zhangjiagang during his recent educational trip to China with Quality Wool.

KYBYBOLITE wool grower Mark Kester has returned from a fact-finding trip to China confident of the country’s continued appetite for the Australian clip and excited about “game-changing” innovations in sports wool.

Mr Kester recently took part in a five-day educational tour to Shanghai and Beijing facilitated by Quality Wool, allowing him to witness first-hand the processing of the raw product he creates.

The large group comprised of Quality Wool staff and clients trekked to Beijing and Shanghai to visit a number of mills, both small and large-scale, to observe the scouring top-making, carbonizing, spinning, weaving and dying processes.

Mr Kester, who runs 5000 crossbred ewes on his mixed enterprise property in the south-east, said not only was it fascinating to view the early stage processing of the raw product, but the mill tours reinforced his confidence about the future Chinese demand for Australian wool.

“A lot of the scouring mills are now having to shift their operations (due to water treatment regulations)”.

“The fact they’re prepared to move and spend quite a bit of money setting up elsewhere shows they’re in for the long haul”.

“It looks good going forward”.

The tour schedule also included a visit to the Woolmark Company office in Beijing, where the group heard about wool’s burgeoning relationship with apparel giants such as Nike and Adidas with increased use of the product in active wear.

Mr Kester described this as his “most exciting part of the trip”.

“Nike getting on board using wool in their shoes and developing new 100% water proof jackets (using wool) is a bit of a game-changer,” he said.

“When you explain to people back home that Aussie wool is going into that, it has a bit of wow factor.”

“And the potential for sales is enormous”.

Almost 80 per cent of Australia’s raw wool production is exported to China for early stage processing.

Half of that figure is retailed in the country as well, meaning Australia’s $3.6 billion wool industry depends heavily on the Chinese processing and retail economies.