23 Nov 2017

Wool industry worried app ewe-sers will change sales

8:36 pm on 23 November 2017

A new app for the Australian wool industry is creating tension among wool brokers.

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WoolQ could change the way the product is sold. Photo: RNZ Cosmo Kentish-Barnes

The $3 million WoolQ app will allow growers to gather and analyse their data in one place, and communicate with other growers, brokers and potentially with buyers.

Wool is currently still sold by an 'open cry' auction system, with the buyers and the wool in one place - but this technology could change that.

The Australian Wool Exchange, which manages wool sales, told Australia's Weekly Times there has been little collaboration with brokers and buyers and the app could result in duplication and storage of data.

New Zealand wool brokers are keeping a close eye on the Australian app and say something similar could eventually be used in this country.

The ABC reported that Australian wool brokers were complaining that they have not been given enough information about the new system and it could affect their business.

WoolQ's Nick Potter told the ABC growers would be able to sell through the traditional method but could also look around the market.

He said it would not have much of an impact on wool brokers.

"It will make things easier for them because it will remove errors in clip specifications which they have to manually go and find."

In New Zealand, Hawke's Bay wool broker Philippa Wright said the industry here was watching what is happening across the Tasman.

"Australia are able to move quite quickly on these things because they have a huge fund with AWI (Australian Wool Innovation), New Zealand hasn't got a wool board and if we do anything similar it will be a lot slower and much more consultative."

She said at this stage there was no threat for her job, because wool still needed to be collected, tested, stored, and shipped.

The WoolQ portal is under construction and will take nine months to complete, the first element is being trialed in January.

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