Premium Quality Mohair
Bruce McGregor, Attwood
Updated: January 2007
Effective marketing, genetic improvement and training in the mohair industry requires accurate knowledge of the impact of attributes on the value of mohair. For the international textile industry that buys Australian mohair, only a small number of attributes affect the value of mohair.
This Agriculture Note provides the most up-to-date assessment of those factors that affect the price of mohair. The assessment is based on the first comprehensive market analysis of prices paid by exporters of Australian mohair.
Defining premium quality products
A premium product has a special value attached to it compared with other products. For this article premium mohair is defined as having the highest commercial price (market value). Other mohair will have a discounted price.
Quality is usually defined as ¡§fitness for purpose¡¨. So the quality depends upon the intended use and the processing route for the product.
The quality of something can be defined in terms of three attributes: features, timeliness and cost. Quality mohair will have features that are desirable and may reduce the time needed for processing. The price ultimately depends on the demand for the end product.
Mohair market information
Market information was collected from two Australian mohair-selling agents for the four-year period 1998 to 2001. These agents tested mohair before sale using the Australian Wool Testing Authority. Agents provided details of sale dates, mohair tests, subjective classing and the sale price. The testing information was available for 557 sale lots comprising > 650,000 kg.
Mohair samples were tested for mean fibre diameter (MFD), coefficient of variation of fibre diameter (CVD), scoured yield, and vegetable matter content (VM). Australian mohair had an average MFD of 30.9 µm, CVD 29.1 %, VM 1.0 % and scoured yield 84.0 %.
Each agent assessed fibre length, mohair style and other attributes to form sale lines.
Mohair length was classified into 5 classes: A, 12-16 cm; B, 10-12 cm; C, 7-10 cm; overgrown (OG), > 16 cm; and AB (mixed AB length).
Kemp content was assessed as free or nearly free (FNF), low (K), moderate (KK), or high (KKK). VM fault was assessed FNF or containing VM fault (V).
Style grades were applied as superior, average or poor, based on general appearance attributes including: staple character, style, tip and lock uniformity, fibre handle, uniformity of staple length, dust penetration and lustre.
Poor style was applied to inferior mohair classified as K, KK or KKK. Style grades were not given to cotted, stained or OG mohair. Agents only separated mohair for superior style from 1998 until the second quarter in 2000.
Factors affecting price
Greasy mohair price was affected by: selling period, selling agent, MFD, length, style, VM and fault line and interactions between these factors (Figure 1).
No other factors were important. The final model accounted for 98% of the variation in greasy mohair price. Other factors combined could account for no more than 2% of the variation in price and must be regarded as being of little importance for commercial mohair buyers.
Mean fibre diameter
There was a very large price premium for MFD down to 25 µm (Figure 2). Terms involving MFD accounted for 59% of the variation in the price of mohair not accounted for by agent and period combinations (Figure 1).
The MFD of mohair is the most important determinant of commercial value as it affects both the processing and textile performance of mohair, as is the case with wool.
The decline in price at below 25 µm (Figure 2) may be explained by noting that most of the fibre below 24 µm was shorter AB and B length kid mohair discounted for various faults such as poorer style, length, kemp and VM.
Agents indicated there was less competition for the smaller lots of this mohair and that this mohair was not passed in.
The baseline response shows the maximum price was reached at a MFD of 25 µm. The relative price declined to about 50% of the maximum at 30 µm and to a price of 10% of the maximum at 36 µm (Figure 3).
In recent years finer mohair has been in demand for use in light weight clothing. Part of the reduced demand is based on the comfort properties of textiles, in particular the perception of prickle in mohair fabrics. As 45% of world production of mohair is greater than 34 µm it is not surprising that the price for coarse mohair is heavily discounted. Demand for coarser mohair used in tropical suiting material for the Japanese markets declined during the 1980s following the development of cheaper yarns using crossbred wools.
Over the past 20 years there has been no progress in producing significant quantities of finer mohair. It would be expected that if significant quantities of finer mohair became available then the price trends seen with wool and cashmere would prevail. This would result in the price discount curve moving towards finer fibre, so that the maximum price would be obtained at, say, 20 µm.
Selling period and agent
Selling period and agent combinations accounted for 22% of the variation in mohair prices (Figure 1).
The response of greasy mohair price to MFD differed greatly with period. In some selling periods the price was up to 200% or more higher than that shown in Figure 2. While the timing of sale does impact on price there is no selling season within a year that is better than another.
It is not surprising that relativities between mohair fibre diameter change with time as seen with wool. These relativities are associated with changes in demand and textile uses of mohair. In addition, daily variation due to exchange rate fluctuations, as occurs with greasy wool price, also affect mohair prices.
The analysis indicates that most of the time the agents prepared mohair similarly but where small differences occurred it appeared to be with the classification of off-type mohair. This may reflect the different types of off-type mohair received. As it was not the objective of the study to identify differences between agents the information relating to agents will remain confidential.
There were important discounts/premiums for style grades (Table 1). The increase in the value of superior compared with poor style mohair was 43%. These discounts and premiums were consistent with time and MFD.
Table 1. Effect of style, within mainlines, on the price of Australian mohair sold during the period 1998 to 2001
|Mohair Style||Deviation (%)|
Style is believed to be correlated to more even fibre length distribution within the fleece but textile experiments have not clearly shown this to be the case.
These results emphasise the importance of good husbandry and genetic selection at low MFD to avoid the 20% discount seen with poor style mohair.
The premium for superior style mohair suggests that better selection for style in fine mohair may be economic. However Australian mohair selling agents discontinued the superior style lines of mohair during the price boom of 2000 and 2001 as a premium given to style was not apparent. This analysis suggests otherwise, as the price differentials between superior and average and between average and poor styles were both significant and large.
Further analysis showed why agents and growers did not ¡§see¡¨ an effective premium for style. In Australia, mohair classed as Fine Kid, Kid and Young Goat and of superior style had on average a greater MFD than similar mohair classed as having average style (Table 2).Table 2. Effect of style grading within subjective fibre diameter classes on the objective mean fibre diameter (MFD) of sale lots. Bold value within subjective fibre diameter classes are statistically different
|Subjective fibre diameter class||Style grading|
This finding influences the interpretation of the price information so that for mohair finer than 31 µm: a premium for style can be offset to a varying extent by a discount for higher MFD (Figure 3); and the visual assessment for superior style mohair is correlated with increasing MFD (Table 2).
Presently in Australia, superior style mohair is used to improve the style of the average lines of mohair.
Clearly producers should try to avoid penalties for reduced style that may arise with finer mohair production.
These findings also emphasise the importance of evaluating potential mohair sires for MFD as well as the subjective evaluation of fleece style.
There was a small price discount for B length mohair, and a substantial price discount for C length mohair (Figure 4). Deviations due to length differ with time indicating greater and lesser discounts related to demand. B length mohair is closer to A length (zero) at all times whereas the price for C length is clearly dependent on demand.The discounts for length were less at lower MFD (Figure 5). For example, the main effect discount for B length mohair was a reduction in price of 7% (Figure 4), but at 23 µm there was a premium for B length (Figure 5) resulting in the discount being negligible (- 7% +≈
7% = 0%).
Mohair staple length determines the processing route for mohair in textiles. Long mohair is required for worsted processing while short mohair is used in woollen processing. It is clear that the market generally favours longer mohair for worsted processing compared with mohair used for woollen processing.
It is more desirable to produce B length kid mohair than to risk producing A length or AB length kid mohair with VM fault. This indicates that management practices such as grazing, kidding, sire selection and shearing strategies need to be implemented to maximise the quantity of average to superior style A length mohair with low VM.
It is clearly desirable to avoid producing C length mohair and face a 50% discount. Any practice that can result in potential C length mohair reaching B length would result in an effective doubling of greasy mohair price.
Table 3 shows that B length K fibre was discounted 34% where as B length with no kemp (Figure 4) was discounted only 7%. Presence of excessive kemp in adult AB length mohair resulted in discounts of about 78%. Kemp is a greater problem in fine mohair than in adult mohair and the price will depend on the demand.
Table 3. Effect of other faults at Period 2 and 30 µm, on the price of Australian mohair sold during the period 1998 to 2001 (FNF = free or nearly free of VM fault).
|Length and fault group||Deviation (%)|
|A length Kemp K FNF||- 28|
|B length Kemp K FNF||- 34|
|Cotted or Heavy cott FNF||- 37, -91|
|Fine Hair AB length V||- 51|
|Overgrown FNF||- 56|
|Light stain FNF||- 70|
|AB length Kemp KKK FNF||- 78|
|Kemp KKK FNF||- 87|
While the effect of VM can in some situations be large, the overall picture is that it contributes only a small percentage (less than 2%) of the overall variation in greasy mohair price (Figure 1). This is partly a result of mohair not being produced in the worst VM areas.
Large discounts (40 to 80%) occur for mohair with more than 2% VM at all MFD. While the discount was always large, the level of discount for VM increases substantially, as mohair becomes finer. For example vegetable matter in AB fine hair mohair resulted in a 51% discount (Table 3).
Effect of time and MFD on fault lines
The overall picture for length and fault discounts was for these discounts to be relatively consistent over time. The discounts for mohair faults were much greater at lower MFD (Figure 6) and were proportionally less serious when the mohair MFD was high and the changes in discount with MFD were proportionally greater the more serious the fault.
Other attributes of mohair sale lots
There was no observed effect of sale lot size, CVD or clean wool content.
CVD of sale lots varied from 24 - 41%. In this analysis, the lack of response to CVD is due to much of the variation being accounted for within length, kemp and other faults. While CVD was related to MFD of the sale lot, MFD accounted for only 1.7% of the variation in CVD. Over a 20 µm range in mohair MFD the CVD increased only 1% unit. However differences in length accounted for 2.8% units and the presence of kemp, cotts or stain a further 3 to 9% units.
Scoured yield (SY) estimates the proportion of clean mohair in the greasy material, which is critical to the processor yet there is no evidence that this measurement is adding to the explanation of greasy mohair price as would be expected. Given that the range in SY of tested lots was 74 - 92% it is surprising that the SY provided at sale was not related to the greasy price of mohair. Buyers reported that they assume an average of 85% yield for mohair.
There is clearly no competition for lots of differing SY but the same MFD. The individual producer of high yielding mohair may not be receiving equity, in that the greasy price does not reflect the true value of the lot.
As the price reported to producers is the greasy price, the price signals are not clear unless buyers value natural contaminants such as soil and grease to the same extent as clean mohair. If mohair prices were reported on clean fibre content the price would be 8 to 35% higher (mean increase 19%) compared with the reported greasy mohair price.
What this means for producers
Producers cannot do anything about the variation in mohair prices caused by year and sale time affects.
MFD is more important in affecting mohair prices than in the past. As MFD affects 67% of the remaining variation in price producers should:
- Use bucks known to produce mohair < 30 µm
- Cull goats that exhibit excessive MFD ¡¥blowout¡¦
- When selecting for superior style mohair use MFD tests to avoid correlated increases in MFD
- Maintain high levels of nutrition for breeding does.
Producers should adjust shearing and crutching times and grazing practices with:
- Priority given to goats growing the finest and highest value mohair such as kids and yearling; and focus on
- Producing A or B length mohair with < 1% VM and free of kemp, stain and cots.
Australian Mohair Marketing Organisation Pty Ltd, Nerrandera and National Mohair Pools Pty Ltd., Cudal. Mr. C. Clancy and Dr. D. Stapleton are thanked for their assistance.
Appendix - Using the information
The price for any mohair, at any time during the period, can be calculated by determining the relevant baseline value, and then accumulating relevant deviations from the tables and graphs. For example, fibre selling for AU$20/kg in the baseline response may also have selling period discounts of 5%, premiums for style of 20% and discounts for VM of 35% providing the outcome:
$20 x ((100-5)/100) x ((100+20)/100) x ((100-35)/100) = $14.80 as the predicted sale price.
Note: these deviations from the baseline do not add up, the deviations multiply. Further information to determine the historic price for the periods and type of mohair studied is contained in the publication: McGregor, B.A. and Butler, K.L. (2004), Australian Journal of Agricultural Research 55: 1283-1298.