How Mohair is Valued
This paper provides objective information about how the world market values mohair. The information is based on analyses of South African mohair auction prices, Australian mohair prices and international prices for mohair tops. There is also reference to how mohair characteristics affect processing.
Market valuation of mohair tops
The raw materials for the textile industry are mohair tops not raw greasy mohair. Mohair tops can be ordered and used directly for yarn production or blended with other fibres before spinning. There are potentially thousands of spinning plants that may wish to purchase mohair tops. The relative prices for different categories of mohair tops are given in Table 1. The prices are relative to the most expensive top, fine kid mohair, which always sells for the highest price. Prices are given for a three year period. During year 2 and year 3 the prices for mohair increased significantly as fashion demand grew.
TABLE 1. The price of mohair tops relative to fine kid mohair tops.
As Table 1 shows there are large differences in the price of mohair tops as fibre diameter increases. Adult 37 micron mohair tops sell for 80% less than fine kid mohair.
Auction buyer's valuation of mohair
Following a survey of the free market mohair auction price in South African over a 10 year period, the main parameters that influence the price of mohair were determined (Table 2, 4). Some additional information has also been sourced from Australian auction prices.
TABE 2. Attributes of raw greasy mohair that give the maximum price.
Mean fibre diameter
Mean fibre diameter is the main parameter that determines the price of raw greasy mohair. Maximum prices are paid for 24 to 26 micron mohair. On average mohair prices fall 5% for each 1 micron increase in the mean fibre diameter (Table 4). Mohair prices appear to stabilize at about 34 micron and above with prices about 55% of maximum value.
Mohair fibre diameter affects the speed of mohair spinning. Increasing mohair fibre diameter reduces the speed at which mohair can be spun by up to 50%. During combing of mohair to produce tops the amount of short broken fibre removed (noil) declines with increasing fibre diameter. Both these processing characteristics increase the relative value of finer mohair tops. Fibre diameter also affects many fabric properties with the more desirable properties generally associated with finer mohair.
Table 3 gives the proportion of mohair output that is sold in each fibre diameter category. It is clear that the properties of fine mohair that lead to superior textile performance have not yet led to greatly increased production of fine kid mohair.
TABLE 3. The proportion of mohair production that is sold in different fibre diameter categories.
Buyers are not as discriminating when it comes to mohair length. While mohair of 15 cm length commands the maximum price, it represents only about 2% of the traded fibre, for a very specialised niche. This niche market will be ignored in this discussion. Mohair lengths ranging from 7.5 to 15 cm (representing about 55% of the trade) receives about 92% of the maximum price. Hair of 5 to 7.5 cm receives about 83% of maximum price. Crossbred fibre sold for 66% of the maximum price or 71% of the main lines.
In recent years preference has been given for mohair longer than 10 cm. While it is important to ensure classed mohair lines have even lengths, the market discriminates against length to a far lesser extent than against fibre diameter.
Fibre length is generally based on the measurement of staple length. However staple length overestimates the mean length of the fibres in the staple. Following processing the mean length of fibres may be only 75 to 60% of the greasy fibre staple length. There is also a wide variation in the length of mohair fibres after processing.
Fibre length is important as it affects the spinning performance of yarns. Longer fibre can be spun at faster speeds requiring less twisting to produce commercial yarns. Longer fibre is both cheaper to produce into yarns and provides better quality fabrics with less tendency to pill and with reduced fabric prickle sensations. For mohair, longer fibre length enables fancy yarns to be spun for special knitwear products.
The affects of kemp incidence on kid and adult mohair result in discounts of 20% and 16% associated with increases of 1.6% and 2.0% in the incidence of kemp. Medullation of fibres affects the colour appearance of fabrics and also contributes significantly to any fabric prickle sensations.
Coloured fibre is usually heavily discounted. Red and black fibres and fibre stained with urine, dung or with raddle markings is usually consigned to the contaminated lots bringing discounts of 50% or greater. White fibre is preferred as it can be dyed to the widest range of colours.
Style and character
Style is the solid twists or ringlets in mohair while character is the crimps or waves in the staple. A balance between the two is preferred. On balance, style and character do not affect the price to the same extent as fibre diameter. In South Africa, mohair of average style and character received only 87% of the maximum value while mohair classed as having variable or poor style and character received only 60% of the maximum value. As a proportion of the market super fibre represented 17%, average fibre represented 39% and variable and poor fibre represented 19 and 22% respectively.
Recent studies have suggested that style and character are related to the uniformity of fibre length in mohair. The studies showed that style and character are additive. Thus mohair with super style and character should have longer fibre in the processed tops and should spin better than mohair with average or poor style and character. This has been shown in South African mohair where a definite advantage existed in improved top fibre length when good style and character mohair was processed. It was also found that a better style and character was associated with other fibre properties that changed with changes in style and character.
The style and character of raw mohair is related to the processing attributes of mohair and as such variations in style and character should be reflected in the market price paid by exporters and/or topmakers. In greasy Texan mohair style provides an indication of kemp in the top.
Vegetable fault and heavy grease
Major burr and grass seed contamination of mohair incurs serious price penalties. The reason is that to remove burrs and grass contamination the mohair must be carbonised. This process is not only expensive but removes the lustre of the fibre and results in a yellowing of the mohair. As lustre is one of mohair's' most sought after attributes the presence of major vegetable fault results in discounts of up to 50% or more. Heavy grease content requires longer more severe scouring producing creamy coloured mohair restricting such fibre to lower priced end uses.
The various influences of mohair attributes on mohair price and processing performance are summarised in Table 4.
TABLE 4. The influence of various mohair attributes on market discounts and processing performance.
© 2000 B.A.McGregor