British Wool: supporting British farmers
British Wool is a farming co-operative, owned by the sheep farmers registered with us. As a business, our main objective is to maximise the value of our producer’s wool. Graham Clark, Director of Marketing, explains how we do this.
What are the benefits of belonging to a farming co-operative?
Farming co-operatives provide strength in numbers – they’re about collective action. In our case, we market and sell British wool on behalf of our farmers, proactively researching and developing new markets and sales opportunities for British wool on a global basis.
A good example of this is our new partnership with Lovo, a Chinese bedding manufacturer. Lovo launched The British Wool Collection in September 2019, with sales getting off to an extremely positive start. There’s a big demand for British provenance in China and we’ve opened the door on this opportunity for British sheep farmers.
Technically, we don’t make a profit as a company, our profits are the returns we provide to farmers registered with us. So, the more we can influence the market and grow consumer demand for products made with British wool, the more we can return to our producers.
How does British Wool support sheep farmers?
First of all, we make it easy and cost effective for producers to send their wool to us through our depot network and haulier services. Once the wool arrives with us, we provide a sorting and grading service which makes sure producers receive true market value for their wool when we sell it through our auctions, which are held at our head office in Bradford, West Yorkshire every two weeks.
We also know how important it is to support the future of our industry, so we invest heavily in training and supporting the next generation of shearers, and also the next generation of wool producers, with initiatives like our new entrants scheme.
Why is wool sorting and grading important?
Every year, we receive around 27 million kilos of wool from our farmers. Every fleece we receive is individually hand graded to determine the grade and the quality. This is important because wool varies in quality so separating it makes sure we maximise the price.
All our wool is independently tested for micron (diameter of each strand), colour and dry yield (the weight left after the wool is cleaned) before it can sold at auction. Testing the wool to international standards gives our auction buyers confidence in its quality.Back to Press Releases