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Quality assurance lifts wool value

"As with many other things, there is a surprising amount of prejudice against quality control, but the proof of the pudding is still in the eating."
Ishikawa, Introduction to Quality Control, 1993.

The Fernmark Quality Programme is designed to secure the long-term future of New Zealand wool, not to win price increases tomorrow.

However, FQP wools are generally better quality than non-FQP wools and, more often than not, this means better prices.

It's hard to say in terms of dollars and cents whether quality assurance is worth the extra effort for growers, because it is difficult to determine a premium for mid-micron and crossbred wool prepared under FQP.

For example, when you compare a 37F2D type non-FQP wool with a 37F2D type FQP wool you probably won’t find a premium. But that's not the whole story.

The real difference is in the quality lift FQP preparation gives to wool. Preparing wool under FQP guidelines lifts its quality considerably. As a result of better preparation and fewer faults FQP wools are almost always lifted by one or two style grades before a sale.

Better styles enjoy better prices – and over a period the extra income will exceed the cost of preparing the wool correctly.

Among crossbred wools, the incidence of black fibres, cotts, penstain and skirtings are all lower for FQP wools.

The incidence of cotts in crossbred wools is the most striking difference between FQP and non-FQP wools. Cotting in crossbred wools produced on FQP farms has declined significantly since the programme started in mid-1996.

Not only are the FQP wools of better quality, but their overall quality has improved, which hasn't happened for the non-FQP wools.

Wool Quality – Incidence of fault indicators at auction (Feb 2001)
Breed Fault QA Wool Non-QA Wool
Merino Cotts 0% 2%
Pen stain 0% 2.3%
Length variable 1.9% 3.8%
Mid-micron Cotts 1% 2%
Tenderness 1.2% 13.8%
Length variable 0.5% 6%
Crossbred Cotts 4% 14%
Skirting fault 0.7% 2.3%
Length variable 0.5% 2.6%

Wools from FQP-accredited farms now make up about a quarter of all wool sold at auction. In total, around 15 per cent of New Zealand's production is readily available to mills worldwide as quality assured wool.


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