Australian Wool Innovation has revealed its online services and trading platform WoolQ did not meet important registration and transaction targets last financial year.
In its 2019/20 Annual Report, AWI declared that it did not meet the two targets it had set for WoolQ prior to the financial year.
The first target was achieving an increase of 1700 wool growers adopting the WoolQ grower tools on the previous financial year.
AWI didn't come close to achieving this target, instead recording an increase of 479 users signing up to the platform and 158 business accounts being created.
This brought the total registration number to 2488 as of June 20, 2020, which included 1408 wool growers.
It brought the total WoolQ business profiles to 985, with 741 being wool growers, 76 being buyers, 73 being classers, 64 being brokers, 17 being contractors and 14 being groups.
The second target AWI had set for WoolQ was that 2 per cent of Australia's wool was traded through the WoolQ Market tool.
Instead, only 939 bales of wool were sold through the platform, which was a mere 0.064pc of the almost 1.5 million bales traded last financial year.
It did say, however, that 32,437 bales were created in WoolQ and 1033 had an eSpeci created.
AWI said it was difficult for WoolQ Market - which was ready for delivery in July 2019 - to garner sufficient support from key players due to positive market conditions, so the decision was taken to defer the launch until there was confidence of increased industry support.
"Like so many Australian businesses, WoolQ has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in a number of different ways," the company said.
"Firstly, our state-based field officers who have been at the frontline working with wool growers assisting them in the use and adoption of the WoolQ grower tools, particularly the WoolQ eSpeci, were unable to travel due to the virus lockdown restrictions."
AWI said WoolQ Market suddenly offered the industry an additional business continuity option at a time when the traditional saleroom looked like being unavailable for a period of time due to social distancing requirements.
"It was against the backdrop of this extraordinary operating environment that WoolQ management decided to re-engage with interested market participants - both brokers and buyers - to showcase the operation and benefits of the WoolQ Market online auction," it said.
"The AWI board, understanding that delivering an alternative selling option at this time could be difficult for wool industry participants on a number of levels, agreed to launch WoolQ Market free of any exchange or other fees to existing reigstered market participants for a minimum period of six months."
In the three months to June 30, WoolQ Market conducted nine auctions selling wool outside the traditional open cry auction's weekly schedule.
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WoolProducers Australia (WPA) chief executive Jo Hall said the results reported on WoolQ by AWI were disappointing, particularly for wool growers who had contributed significant amounts of levy towards it.
Ms Hall said WPA's policy regarding WoolQ was that there had to be buy-in from industry supply chain partners to justify further investment and for it to ultimately be a success.
"Which simply did not happen," she said.
"This has led to the situation where sectors of industry refuse to utilise or promote WoolQ as they had not been engaged properly throughout the development process."
She said while there were some good features to WoolQ, the purpose of the platform had never been made clear or appeared to have changed over time.
"It remains unclear as to who asked for the development of WoolQ in its current format," she said.
"WPA always had concerns about AWI moving into this space due to potential duplication of expenditure of grower dollars with other service providers as happened with the eSpeci and AWEX's WoolClip and competition with private enterprises, such as AuctionPlus Wool and other wool trading platforms."
Ms Hall said given the significant amount of money growers had invested in WoolQ, it would be a shame for it to amount to nothing.
"It is now incumbent of AWI to start genuinely working with other industry stakeholders, including other industry service providers, to see if something can be salvaged from this investment," she said.
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