Australian wool in a global context

Australia is the leading global supplier of wool and the world’s largest wool export nation, producing 45% of global wool exports.

Given the dominance of fine Merino production in Australia, typically Australian wool is retailed as high-end fashion and lightweight knitwear.

Australia’s wool production reflects our unique geography and climate, and our culture of innovation and excellence.

This culture has resulted in world-leading systems for clip preparation and specification, biosecurity, traceability, and promoting practices on-farm that benefit the lifetime health and welfare of sheep.

Fast Facts

Australia is the largest exporter of greasy wool, producing 45% of world exports.

The Australian flock consists of 76.5 million sheep, including 30 million Merino-breeding ewes and a similar number of lambs.

The total value of the wool clip to the Australian economy in 2022-23 was AU$3.2 billion.

Australia’s production

The total value of the wool clip to the Australian economy in 2018-19 was AU$3.4 billion with around 200,000 people employed in the Australian wool industry.

Since the first sheep arrived in Australia in 1788, wool production has extended through six states, from high rainfall pastureland to semi-arid regions.

Just over half of that production occurs in New South Wales and Victoria. However, production can vary greatly from year to year, with the greatest influence being seasonal rainfall. For example, large parts of eastern Australia recently experienced a severe drought which saw Australia’s total wool production drop by 16% in two years. Australian Wool Innovation has detailed information of sheep numbers by state.

Australian Wool Innovation and Meat and Livestock Australia undertake regular wool and sheep meat surveys to provide detailed information on flock structure and breed presence on a state and regional level.

The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Science also publishes extensive information on Australian wool production, sheep numbers and key export numbers on an annual basis.

Innovation and marketing

Australia invests more than any other country in wool research and development (R&D). This shows the long-standing commitment to supporting sustainable industry growth and development held by both Australian wool growers and the Australian government.

Since 1936, Australian wool growers have agreed to contribute a levy on wool sales to support continuous improvement of industry practices and international competitiveness. The wool levy rate is set by growers, and the Australian Government co-invests matching amounts toward R&D. Australian Wool Innovation Limited (AWI) is responsible for investing these funds into wool marketing and R&D activities along the worldwide supply chain of Australian wool.

AWI’s subsidiary for marketing activities, The Woolmark Company, has offices in 16 countries around the world and owns one of the world’s most recognised logos – the Woolmark – which has appeared on more than five billion products since its introduction.