According to Vincent Pierce, from Wicklow-based wool merchants Laurence Pierce Ltd, 95% of the wool produced in Ireland is destined for export.

“China is by far the biggest player in the market, accounting for 40% of global sales,” he added.

“There is no scouring sector in Ireland. The wool industry just isn’t big enough to justify the setting up of such a business. As a consequence, wool is exported from Ireland in its greasy state. The prices that we receive reflect the percentage of the wool contained within the packed bales and the presentation of the product. New Zealand tends the lead the way in this regard with Ireland a little bit behind.

“As a company we are actively exporting to China at the present time.”

Commenting on the current state of the wool market, Vincent Pierce confirmed that last season’s prices started off at around €1.20 per kilo and then rose in line with the demand shown by China.

“However, last November China stopped buying wool and only re-entered the market a few weeks ago, but at lower prices levels than would have been the case last autumn. So in terms of where the market will find its level in 2014, my gut feel is that we might well be looking at a repeat of last year,” he commented.

Laurence Pierce Ltd is also an active buyer of English wool, currently accounting for well over 10% of that country’s output.

“We have 20 plus intake points in England, with throughputs ranging from forty to six hundred tonnes,” Vincent Pierce explained.

“We believe there is room for further organic growth within that market.”

Vincent Pierce then went on to highlight the significance of the Golden Shears World Sheep Shearing Championships, taking place in Gorey, Co Wexford next month.

“We will have a major presence at the event,” he commented.

“I would encourage as many people as possible to come along and enjoy what promises to be a fantastic event.”