Avington Merino Principal, Noel Henderson, recently visited Biella in Italy. Located in the north-west of the country at the foothills of the Alps, Biella is an important wool processing and textile centre, having been the home of Italian wool processing for hundreds of years. Steeped in history, there are many old buildings and mills scattered throughout the surrounding area, one of the mills Noel visited dated back to 1663.
During his visit Noel gained valuable information and feedback on wool processing. He visited a number of combing mills to see raw wool being processed into tops, and went to spinning and weaving mills to watch the tops being converted into high quality cloth.
Noel discussed the demand for Australian wool and any problems they have encountered in Australian wool quality with the mills, and a number of key fashion brands, in an effort to improve wool quality and production at Avington.
The issues reported were consistent including; mulesing, supply, current wool prices, quality of clip preparation, wool strength (which directly relates to high speed processing) and how the Responsible Wool Standard will be accepted by Australian wool growers.
Noel also recognised the high level of commitment to the environment, observing the extensive use of solar panels, water recycling and cogeneration.
The high standard of quality control during processing was also evident, highlighting the level of focus the industry has in Biella, resulting in the producion of beautiful fabrics. In one mill Noel observed 52 different stages of quality checks.
This attention to detail was evident throughout the town. The food and wine Noel shared with his generous local hostswas also a highlight of his trip.