Wool Marketing and Clip Preparation

Current Version

This module consists of 15 topics. The module was formerly designated WOOL-422-522, but this version is has been restructured to place the topics in a more logical order and to expand the marketing and promotion material.

  1. Introduction
  2. Clip Preparation Research
  3. Shearing
  4. Wool Classing
  5. Type and Style
  6. Participants in the Wool Marketing Chain
  7. Selling and Price Risk
  8. Wool Growing as a Business
  9. Wool Price Determination
  10. Introduction to Wool Marketing
  11. Marketing Principles
  12. Global View of the Apparel Market
  13. Wool Supply Overview
  14. Australian Wool Market
  15. Product Promotion



Topic 1:  Introduction

By the end of this first topic you should have:

  • An overview of the unit and the Australian wool industry
  • An understanding of the needs and requirements for the supply of high quality wool to the market
  • Knowledge of the main sectors and organisations that play a role in the industry

Australia is the world’s second largest (behind China) greasy wool producing country, accounting for about 19% of world production in 2016 (IWTO 2018). However, as wool yields are a lot poorer in China, Australia is still the largest producer of clean wool production with 22.8% (IWTO 2018). However, number of sheep farms and the amount of wool produced has been declining steadily in Australia (Figure 1.1 and 1.2). In 2009/10 sheep numbers reached their lowest point at 68 million head. Since then numbers have increased to 70.6 million in 2017/18 and is forecast to drop again to 66.9 million in 2018/2019 (ABARES 2019). In 2017/18 the average fleece weight was 4.5 kg (AWPFC 2019, ABARES 2019). Since the last survey in 2016-17, there were 152,376 specialist sheep farmers and a total of 230,241 farms producing sheep as either specialists or mixed enterprises (ABARES 2017).


Topic 2:  Clip Preparation Research


  • The structure of classed clips and the reasons for the lines made
  • The relationships between objective measurement and subjective appraisal
  • The results of objective measurement of classed lines prepared by subjective appraisal
  • Components of variation of fibre diameter and their impact on clip preparation and processing
  • Familiarity with the outcomes of processing trials comparing Objective Clip Preparation with traditional procedures
  • The components of fibre/staple length variation and significance in clip preparation and processing
  • The components of variation of staple strength and significance of staple strength in clip preparation and processing
  • The differences in staple strength achieved by sorting fleeces on the basis of subjective estimates of strength
  • The relative proportions of the lower lines of a clip
  • The measured characteristics of lower lines compared with fleece lines
  • The impact of the research results on clip preparation
  • Conclusions to be drawn from processing trials on the preparation of lower lines and their separation from the fleece lines

A major research effort in clip preparation began in the 1960s and proceeded vigorously for the next decade. This research established the components of variation for the major processing characteristics of fibre diameter and fibre length and demonstrated that the major source of variation was at the fibre level so that separation of fleeces could have little influence on the level of variation within classed lines.

The catalyst for this research was the availability of new measurement technology. The microscope method for measurement of fibre diameter was too slow for extensive studies. The advent of the airflow technique provided a rapid and accurate measure of average fibre diameter until it was replaced by the faster techniques of the 90s.

Early research suggested that fibre diameter should replace crimp as an indicator of “fineness” (Duerden 1929; Lang 1947) and new results revealed the significant discrepancies between subjective appraisal of “fineness” (or quality number, quality count, spinning count) and measured average fibre diameter and measured and appraised yield (Whiteley & Charlton 1973) for individual sale lots.

Topic 3:  Shearing

  • How timing of shearing affects major wool production factors, including:
    • fleece weight
    • fibre diameter
    • staple strength
    • staple length
    • vegetable matter and yield
  • How timing of shearing affects sheep health and management, including:
    • effect on nutritional requirements of time of shearing
    • disease risk
    • aligning shearing time of young sheep with the main flock time
    • reproduction
  • The relative importance of the above points and which should receive priority when deciding a shearing time
  • The important aspects of preparation before shearing
  • The curvilinear nature of the price/diameter curve and its commercial significance
  • The use of in-shed testing as an effective tool for producing sale lots of different average fibre diameter
  • The technical and commercial factors that influence the efficacy of in-shed testing
  • OFFM as an aid to selection
  • The prospects of utilising OFFM of other characteristics for clip preparation and sheep selection

Topic 4:  Wool Classing

On completion of this topic you should have an understanding of:
• Main breeds of sheep kept in Australia and their breed characteristics
• Principles which underlie wool classification in Australia
• Characteristics of wool fibre and their relationship to wool classification
• Importance of wool preparation to achieve a quality clip

Topic 5:  Type & Style

On completion of this topic you should have an understanding of:
• style and type when describing raw wool and their effect on processing and pricing
• different classing systems, the current traditional system how it has evolved and the
reasons for this
• the underlying basis of the current system along with the principles of blending different
lots to meet specific requirements
• other classing systems operating in other parts of the world

Topic 6:  Participants in the Wool Marketing Chain

On completion of this topic you should have:


  • an understanding of the structure of the wool marketing chain
  • an understanding of the roles played by the various participants in the chain
  • an understanding of the different types of companies that fill these roles and how they operate
  • familiarity with some of the dominant companies in each of these roles
  • an understanding of the issues that challenge the structure of the supply chain and the possible future direction of

Topic 7:  Selling and Price Risk

On completion of this section you should have an understanding of:


  • The major wool selling methods in Australia
  • Why price risk arises
  • The importance of price risk
  • The different types of approaches to price risk adopted by different types of market participants
  • The different types of price risk to which market participants may be exposed
  • The tools and techniques that can be employed to manage price

Topic 7:  Wool Growing as a Business

On completion this Topic you should have developed an understanding of:

  • the interaction between the social (people), biological (farming) and business management aspects of wool growing
  • the different ‘views’ individuals may bring to, and work through, in the farming enterprise
  • the importance of considering these views to ensure effective communication and innovation within the wool industry
  • the profitability and management levers for a wool growing business
  • the differential characteristics of high and low performing wool growing businesses
  • the impact of region on the production
  • Opportunities for and impediments to, market responsive wool growing businesses
  • Industrial vs biological systems: can wool production respond to the market?
  • Role of technology in assisting market oriented wool

Topic 9:   Wool Price Determination


On completion of this topic you should be able to:


  • understand economic developments in the wool market
  • be able to evaluate the many domestic and foreign developments such as exchange rate fluctuations, changes in government policies, etc that affect the wool market
  • be able to make strategic marketing decisions based on analytical evaluations of the market

Topic 10:  Introduction to Wool Marketing

Upon completion of this topic you should be able to:

  • Describe the elements of the marketing mix;
  • Outline the features of Porter’s supply chain model;
  • Describe the stimulus-organism-response model;
  • Describe the features of the product life cycle;
  • Describe the elements of Porter’s industry competition model;
  • Discuss how fashion trends affect wool demand; and
  • Describe the major constraints to marketing in other

The aim of this section is to introduce readers to the principles of marketing and describe how various marketing techniques can be applied to the wool industry.

Topic 11:  Marketing Principles

On completion of this topic you should have developed an understanding of:

  • Basic marketing concepts
  • The definitions of products and commodities and the way in which our understanding of these should guide marketing system choice
  • The basic structure and function of the apparel wool supply
  • Supply chains, their function and
  • How supply chains are formed, maintained and managed to build value
  • The concept of managed supply chain approaches to marketing
  • The role and importance of communication within a chain
  • Competitive position of wool as a textile fibre and it’s decline in textile market share
  • Raw wool, its complexities and the impact of raw wool description
  • Opportunities for improved description in the future, and,
  • Product opportunities for wool in the future

Topic 12:  Global View of the Apparel Market

On completion of this topic you should have an understanding of the:

  • Outline, size and complexity of the fibre, textile and apparel markets
  • The possible end-uses for textiles
  • Key drivers of demand for textiles
  • Major changes taking place in the textile industry and the consequent
  • the industry structure that allows wool to enter and participate in the textile industry
  • which categories of wool are used for the different apparel and furnishing categories
  • the geographic flow of wool around the world
  • the key driver of change in the wool industry

Topic 13:  Wool Supply Overview

On completion of this topic you should have an understanding of:


  • The two key components of wool supply: production and stocks
  • Recent trends in production and stocks
  • The major factors impacting on wool supply
  • Quality differences between Australia and other wool exporting countries
  • Likely trends in future wool supply

Topic 14:  Australian Wool Market

On completion of this topic you should be able to describe:


  • The wool textile pipeline
  • How decisions are made throughout that pipeline
  • Have a good understanding of the drivers of demand for Australian wool according to individual micron and product
  • Be able to discuss the regional trends in the demand for Australian from export, intermediate processing to final retail stage


Topic 15:  Product Promotion

By the end of this topic you should have developed an understanding of:


  • The history and evolution of wool promotion to the current day including the Woolmark logo
  • Understanding of Generic promotion
  • The customer as the ‘target’ of promotion,
  • Approaches to co-promotion of wool
  • The role of technology in product promotion
  • The impacts of technology on working with a complex supply chain
  • On-farm and post-farm technology, can both contribute to product promotion
  • Wool as a textile fibre in the future
  • Grower marketing groups and production regions as a marketing concept for