Wool buyers are being urged to be willing to pay more for quality amid concerns pricing is lagging behind inflationary pressures. That's a message that the industry wants to push to international markets. Even the Eastern Market Indicator is currently in a low cycle, industry proponents say that across the board it hadn't kept pace with rising costs. NSW woolgrower Jock Menzies, who this year attended the Natural Fibre Connect conference in Italy, said it was important that customers in Europe were aware of the high costs associated with producing a premium product. Mr Menzies runs about 14,000 superfine Merinos near Armidale and said growing interest in sustainable fibres would boost the price of wool eventually but at the moment pricing was lagging behind value. "When people shop for clothes, they're making environmental choices and we just need to change everyone's mindset, so that buyers are willing to reward the farmer, because the farmer needs to be green to produce this product," he said. "Shoppers are willing to pay more for a free-range egg and free-range chicken but they're not when it comes to buying a quality garment and that needs to change. Mr Menzies said during his thirty years in the industry, it had gotten tougher financially. "You hear the older generation talk about how many bales of wool it took to buy a Holden ute and you only have to look around rural properties and see how many houses there were and the families that were supported by the wool industry to understand that there must have been a lot more return that there is today," he said. "We're just having to become more and more efficient at what we do to keep up and it's come to a point where it's so difficult to do that people are leaving the industry... they are moving and going into the cattle. "I think in relative terms we are receiving the same price as we were 20 years ago in dollars, but if you take inflation into account we are behind the eight ball by a long way. "Someone asked me what I think the price should be and I think it should be another 300 cents more than it is to at least break even with the situation that we're in." Mr Menzies said increasing interest rates, higher shearing costs and rising labour costs were among the things putting pressure on wool grower, along with the demand for increasingly finer wool. "Probably around 30 years ago there was a push to drive it finer and finer and then the price went so everyone chased the fine wool and for a while those prices helped us," he said. "But as you do that you reduce the amount of kilograms you cut and you reduce the size of the animal as well, you're basically having to pay more to run each animal. "It used to be fine to have a suit that was made at 21 micron, now they want it at 15.5 microns and that 15.5 micron sheep will probably only produce half of what a 21 micron sheep will do. "Everyone went finer and so the return you're getting has gone done in kg terms but the price has gone down as well so you're getting a double whammy. "The gap between the 21 micron price and the 17.5 micron indicator is not wide enough now, there's not enough of a premium." Mr Menzies said he was passionate about the wool industry and believed there was a bright future ahead. "Coming back from the conference in Italy, we do have a good story to tell because they are all talking about the environment over there," he said. "There are great opportunities out there for wool... we just need to keep positive." WoolProducers Australia CEO Jo Hall said the average Eastern Market Indicator for 2022/23 was 1295c/kg, while a decade ago in 2013/14, it was 1070c/kg. "While there has obviously been peaks and troughs during the past 10 years in regards to the wool market, the overall 10-year average is 1381c/kg," she said. "These figures don't account for inflation so do not account for the increases in shearing costs and other inputs faced by woolgrowers over the past decade. "The demand for wool needs to be increased, as it currently sits at around 1 per cent of the global apparel market. "According to the International Wool Textile Organisation, the contribution of wool to the global supply of fibres has fallen by about half over the past 20 years as wool production has declined, and the production of man-made fibres has nearly doubled, and while wool production has decreased, there has also been a reduction in demand for woollen fabrics in the last two decades. "Wool's eco and sustainability credentials need to be better promoted and the recent Wear Wool, Not Fossil Fuels and Wear Wool, Not Waste campaigns are on the right track to raise awareness of wool's attributes." Ms Hall said although the recently released MLA and AWI Producer Sentiment Survey indicated a 27pc decline in woolgrower confidence over the past 12 months, the same survey indicated that producers believed things will improve. "There are a number of external issues currently impacting wool prices including global financial uncertainty, unfavourable government policies and seasonal outlook," she said. "In order to maintain and attract people into the industry we need to see more money paid for our wool through increased demand." Australian Council of Wool Exporters and Processors president Josh Lamb said that it was accurate to say that wool pricing hadn't kept pace with inflation, but added that volume markets, such as China, tend to run on very thin margins. "It's no different to the mills we deal with in any country," he said. "Of course they want to buy their wool at the best price they possibly can but exporters aren't in the business of selling wool purely at a loss either, so there is a balance to be struck there. "On the exporter side of the fence, we often say when growers are making money, we're making money." Mr Lamb said generally he believed Merino wool had a bright future, looking forward three to four years as returns to growers improve. "Wool is naturally sustainable... it's clean, it's green, it's grown in the sunshine," he said. "It ticks all the boxes and it's part of that story the world is moving towards, getting away from petrochemicals and synthetics and towards natural fibres. "That will be a big shot in the arm in it going forward, no doubt."