After a bright start to the 2018 season, the global cross-bred wool market proved extremely challenging from September onwards, due to the unforeseen US-China trade war.

In the UK, increasing uncertainty over Brexit weighed on consumer confidence, reducing demand for carpet wool types.

Brendan Kelly, chairman at Ulster Wool, explained.

“Against this backdrop of economic challenge, we feel that Ulster Wool has performed relatively well, maintaining average prices in line with last season’s," he said.

When benchmarking against the price of New Zealand cross-bred wool, historically our wool has sold at a 20% discount, but our prices have been consistently higher during 2018.

Kelly said he believes this success is due in part to a more strategic approach at auctions, combined with greater in-depth analysis of global trends.

“In July 2018 we launched an Agency Buyer service to make it easier for new buyers to access the auction.

"This initiative is already starting to have a material impact on competition in the auction room, which should help support our prices moving forward.”

The prices paid by Ulster Wool are significantly higher than those offered by the direct from farm competition, illustrated in the table below:

Kelly added: “Our prices have been consistently higher than the competition for a number of years. We’re working on many new initiatives to maximise the value of producers’ wool, so we expect this already significant difference to increase moving forward.”