Duxton’s Agri Bits and Pieces – Vol. 381
Posted on: May 29th, 2018


The quote for this week is taken from a speech by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Director-General José Graziano da Silva to make the first World Bee Day. The official ceremony was held in Slovenia, the birthplace of Anton Janša in 1734 who is cited as the father of modern apiculture. Graziano da Silva had the following to say:

“Each one of us has an individual responsibility towards protecting bees and we should all make pollinator-friendly choices. Even growing flowers at home to feed bees contributes to this effort. […] Through agroecology, FAO seeks to optimize the interactions between plants, animals, humans and the environment. Innovations are needed and they must be based on the co-creation of knowledge, combining science with local knowledge and experiences, as a social process.”


“Australia’s woolgrowers are about to hit a milestone many thought was unthinkable even a few years ago, with prices set to burst through $20 a kilogram.

A combination of high demand from Chinese mills and flat supplies of wool at auction has seen prices rise 10 per cent since Easter and roughly double over the past 5 years. Around 80 per cent of the Australian clip is destined for Chinese mills.Another frantic week of bidding drove the key market benchmark, the Eastern Market Indicator (EMI) up again to just 9 cents short of the $20 level.

Records have been broken virtually on a daily basis and most grades of wool have never been more expensive. Over the year to date, the EMI this season has averaged 1,695 cents ($16.95/kg).

The Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors executive director Peter Morgan said the current boom, now into its third year, looks more sustainable this time around. “In the past, a period of good prices rarely went beyond a couple of years, this looks a bit different,” Dr Morgan said. Dr Morgan has just returned from an International Wool and Textile Organisation meeting in Hong Kong and said processors were philosophical about the prices they have to currently pay.

“There appeared to be little concern compared to what we’ve seen in recent years,” he said. Dr Morgan said it was unlikely prices would continue to rise at their almost exponential rate, but stable production and wool’s increasing popularity in active sportswear, as well baby clothes, is keeping demand high.

“Wool is an incredibly healthy product and there is growing demand for next-to-skin garments for babies with eczema,” he said.

On the supply side, the size of the Australian flock has dropped by 90 per cent since its heyday.
Big investments in cropping land and the high price of meat has also kept wool production low.

Wool grower and processor Peter Small is one of few in the industry who predicted the possibility of the $20 level, although he though it would take a couple more years to get there.

While he said the current price was a reward for growers who stuck out tough times, he was worried about the longer-term consequences.

“Once it goes through 2,000 cents [$20 per kilogram] it is going to cause a problem, everyone has a limit,” he said.

Mr Small is in the unusual position of not only being a grower at Gritjurk near Coleraine, in Victoria’s Western District, he is also a partner in a processing business in China.

“As a garment manufacturer, selling into the Australian market, I formed a view [in 2010] we could cope with a doubling of prices,” he said.

The other factor supporting the price hike is the parched conditions across much of Australia’s best pastoral lands

“It’s rain first, price second”, Andrew Woods, a wool industry consultant from Reimann based in Wagga Wagga, said.

“It [the prolonged dry] has caused a supply crunch in many of the broader lines of wool,” Mr Woods said.

Back in the Western Districts, Mr Small said the merino ewe base had dwindled to such a low level, and given the dry conditions, it could take years to build up again.

“We need to lift production,” he said.

Source: Letts, Stephen. ABC Rural News. 18 May 2018.

CAPE DROUGHT MAKES WINE TASTIER, BUT ALSO MORE EXPENSIVE“The drought in South Africa’s Northern and Western Cape provinces is billed as the worst on record. At least the wine is getting better.

Drier weather meant fewer pests damaging vine leaves in the world’s eighth-biggest wine producer and the warm temperatures helped boost the quality of the 2018 vintage, according to Vinpro, which represents 2,500 wine producers and cellars in the local industry of 36 billion rand ($2.9 billion) annually.

“Greater variation between night and day temperatures during the ripening stage gave the color and flavor formation a further boost, which are indicative of remarkable quality wines,” Vinpro said.

Still, the three-year drought has left a toll. The harvest is expected to fall 15 percent to 948 million liters (250 million gallons), resulting in an estimated 8 percent to 11 percent increase in prices.“

Source: Sguazzin, Anthony. Bloomberg. 10 May 2018.


The chart for this week shows the 37% decline in chicken wing prices since September 2017. The wholesale price surged to levels that led restaurants to seek alternatives leading to the dramatic slump. Chicken wings tend to peak in price around the American football season, thus the price is expected to stay fairly low until it commences in September with the Super Bowl closing the season in February 2019. It is a relatively predictable cycle; however, the latest high was the highest price on record since record keeping of wing prices began by the USDA.