Wool prices are likely to average out at around €1.30/kg for the forthcoming season, according to Vincent Pierce of Wicklow-based Laurence Pierce Wool Merchants Ltd.

“This is on a par with last year,” he said.

“We are still a month ahead of this season’s first wool deliveries. Any thoughts which some sheep owners might have had of clipping sheep early have been knocked on the head by the current cold spell.

“But wool quality is likely to be good this year. Ewes took no hurt over the winter months.”

Pierce said that the general tenor of international wool markets remains reasonably strong.

“This is because global sheep numbers have been falling for the last number of years. A case in point is New Zealand where sheep producers continue to depopulate their flocks. But countering this trend is the fact that that lower oil prices make artificial textiles cheaper, when compared with their wool-based equivalent.

“Wool is an internationally traded commodity. We export almost all of ours throughout to China. The good news is that the vast bulk of last year’s wool crop in the UK and Ireland has been sold ”

Pierce’s company has growing commercial interests in the UK, where the business already owns a number of wool depots.

“Our aim is to increase the footprint of the company in the UK market. We have also forged stronger ties with Curtis Wool Holdings, courtesy of an investment they have made in our business. This took effect on March 1 this year.”

The average price paid by merchants for wool by in Northern Ireland this year is likely to be in the region of £1/kg.

“The current strength of Sterling is unlikely to have any impact on wool prices over the coming months,” said Pierce.