A growing mohair revival in the year of the goat

GT Ferreira, who made his mark in South Africa, is leading the charge to make Australia the most valuable mohair producing country in the world.

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There’s a revolution going on in the Australian Angora goat industry and it’s being fuelled by the determination of a global expert, GT Ferreira, who’s set his sights on establishing Australia as the world’s most valuable mohair producing country.

“The niche market is the top goal for our Australian industry and is the arena that unlocks more sustainable returns for mohair. As such, this is of increasing importance to each mohair producer here in Australia,” says Ferreira, who’s pictured above (middle) with SAFIL owner Cesare Savio (left), and Australian Mohair Marketing Organisation Chairperson Brett Grant (right).

It’s generating a resurgence delivering record prices for local farmers with a new focus on producing weaving mohair of such a premium quality it’s grabbed the attention of international buyers hunting for the world’s best.

Ferreira estimates that the Australian mohair industry is currently worth $2.4 million a year, with expectations for strong growth ahead. While wool attracts an average price of $13 a kilo, mohair sells for about $17.50 a kilo.

So strong is the potential demand at this elite end of the market that one of the biggest challenges now is attracting more growers to produce the quantities of the fibre needed to make Australia a viable and recognised producer.

The man behind the mohair

Ferreira made his mark as a top Angora grower in South Africa, regarded as the world’s best producer of high-quality mohair for many years. He immigrated to Australia four and a half years ago after it became clear the long-term sustainability of the industry there was in doubt because of political and social upheaval in the country and the risk to future investment.

Bringing with him his world-class genetics, global reputation and contacts that had made his company a world leader in fine mohair for more than 11 years, Ferreira started working to rebuild his business, AZ Superior Genetics in New South Wales. He had a clear focus – to make Australia a mohair superpower in producing the premium weaving-style mohair that’s in demand to make luxurious fabrics for high-end fashion customers.

“Australia at that stage was only really providing to the world the knitting yarns and not weaving yarns and the difference between the two is like east and west,” says Ferreira, who’s also Acting President of newly formed inclusive umbrella body Australia Premier Mohair Company.

“My idea was to take Australian mohair from only knitting to a weaving mohair industry and to create and build a ‘Pure Australia Mohair’brand at that top quality part of the market. “My specific focus is to make Australia not the biggest mohair producer but the most valuable in the world.”

World best mohair

Ferreira worked with 29 local Angora growers in a trial program backed by Italian textile manufacturing giant, Safil, whose customers include Zegna,Louis Vuitton and Armani, among others.

After identifying the animals in their herds that carried the purityand weaving type mohair, Ferreira classed the fleeces and then provided the mohair to Safil to prove what could be achieved.

“It was one of the best trials ever, close to the best put forward in the world,” Ferreira says. “Immediately we became an international focus and the price rapidly increased, up to 40 percent more than the normal auction prices. Since initiating this project, I’ve been encouraged by the huge effort in the quality improvement by the participants of this trial. I have observed a significant change in the improvement of the individual flocks and the quality clip results. This progress is positive and certainly raises my confidence for further improvement and addressing the next round of challenges.”

A second trial ended in June with results showing a further quality improvement. Ferreira will take the results with him on a trip to Italy and France this month to promote the brand Pure Australian Mohair there.

Tip of the iceberg

Producers say Ferreira’s work has turned around an industry in the doldrums with long-term producers leaving and younger farmers failing to recognise the potential of Angora goats as a sustainable and lucrative farming enterprise.

Veteran Angora producers Juliana and Jeff Neve from Young in New South Wales, who took part in the trial, say the progress already made is “mind-boggling”. They have a herd of 1500 and are focusing on moving their total mohair production over to only weaving quality fibre.

“We’ve been in the industry for more than 30 years and it’s the first time we’ve actually got the vision and the potential to achieve the goals of a very prosperous future,” says Juliana. “In just this short time the gains we’ve made and the financial returns is mind-boggling and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

“With GT’s guidance and superior quality control and the fibre we’re producing the mills are queuing up.”

“He’s proven with these trials that what we can produce is better than what comes out of South Africa, that we can produce the best in the world.”

Key takeouts

  • GT Ferreira, who made his mark as a top Angora grower in South Africa, immigrated to Australia four and a half years ago and has set his sights on establishing Australia as the world’s most valuable mohair producing country.
  • He’s generating a resurgence delivering record prices for local farmers with a new focus on producing premium quality mohair that’s grabbed the attention of international buyers hunting for the world’s best.
  • Ferreira worked with 29 local Angora growers in a trial program backed by Italian textile manufacturing giant, Safil, whose customers include Zegna, Louis Vuitton and Armani, among others.

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