United States Department of Agriculture programs have enabled the small American mohair industry to collaborate with Mohair South Africa, the world’s largest mohair producing country. Thanks to the Market Access Program and the Foreign Market Development Program, the Mohair Council of America (MCA) has sent various groups of industry members to South Africa to build relationships that have created a solid foundation for export growth while bringing higher prices. Thanks to these relationships built over time, South Africa is now the most important export market for American mohair.
This collaboration is key to the success of the American mohair industry in today’s global mohair market. At one time, the South African industry was the biggest competitor to American mohair. This competition positioned the industries against one another, and this was not productive for either side.
When the first stage processing facilities closed in the United States in the late 1990s, American mohair producers had to depend on South Africa for processing. Also, South Africa has worked to educate American mohair producers about how they sort and class their mohair. Overall, this relationship has helped American mohair producers to obtain good prices, and in fact, the U.S. mohair industry recorded prices recently. The prices in 2022 are up to US$7+ per pound of raw mohair, compared to US$2-3 per pound in the early 2000’s.
South Africa has always been an important export market for the U.S. However, in the past, buyers would blend American mohair with lower quality mohair and then label it as American. As the U.S. mohair industry has been able to build relationships with the South African industry, this blending is no longer the practice. The South African trade has expressed their respect for the high-quality American mohair and has requested to receive as much as possible, even asking the industry to put practices in place that will increase production.
“This partnership would not have been possible without the FAS funding allowed for travel to and from South Africa for building these key relationships,” said Bonnie Naumann, MCA Board President. American mohair sales to South Africa were valued at US$5 million in CY2021.