Discover the 10 Countries That Produce the Most Wool

Wool has been our go-to material for generations since it is incredibly soft and robust. People use it to build all kinds of marvelous things, even in the modern world. Wool also has a range and adaptability that are almost unmatched, and it is recyclable and biodegradable. Wool is always in style, whether it’s used for luxurious apparel and blankets, insulation, firefighting equipment, carpets, rugs, or exquisite yarn. However, have you ever pondered about the origin of wool? or which nations make the greatest amounts of wool? Let’s examine the top 10 wool-producing nations in more detail, along with the kinds of wool they generate!

What Is Wool and From What Source Does It Come?

Wool is a unique natural fiber derived from the fleece of several animals, including alpacas, camels, goats, and sheep. It is composed of a particular type of keratin, which is the same protein that makes up human hair and nails. Wool, however, is unique among natural fibers because of its crimped structure. Its flexibility and resilience are unparalleled as a result. Wool keeps its amazing qualities of warmth, breathability, and moisture-wicking.

Wooly animals shear or naturally lose their wool coats once a year, generally in the spring or summer. For instance, the complete fleece of sheep is painstakingly removed, cleaned, and sorted. To ensure the highest quality, only the best fibers are chosen for yarn manufacture.

In general, wool costs a lot more than synthetic fibers like cotton. But this higher price point is a reflection of the premium attributes that set wool apart, as well as the artistry, talent, and resources that go into its manufacturing. Wool is a special and wonderful material that combines exceptional utility with luxury.

Let’s examine the nations that generate the most wool in more detail now to find out how much they produce annually!

1. China (Mainland)

Australia has been the nation that produces the most wool over the past few years. China, on the other hand, has recently been producing more wool than Australia, surpassing Australia in this regard. Nearly 20% of the world’s wool was produced in China in 2021, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Corporate Statistical Database (FAOSTAT)!

Additionally, wool is used in China’s sizable textile sector to make a wide range of items, including carpets, clothing, yarn, and fabric. In fact, China became the world’s largest importer of wool in 2021 when it brought in a staggering 2.5 billion dollars. Wool is imported by China from Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, and Uruguay. Still, a lot of people prefer Australian wool because it’s easy to get and of incredibly excellent quality.

2. Australia

Australia is the second-highest wool-producing nation in the world, right behind China. In fact, Australia has been the world’s top wool producer for a number of years now, often reaching 300,000 tons of wool produced annually. Australia produced 348,68 tons of wool in 2021, the most recent production.

Australia’s environment is ideal for rearing Australian Merino sheep, which is one of the reasons the nation is a major participant in the wool production industry! Merino sheep are able to yield a lot of very fine wool. Particularly Australian Merino wool has a silky smooth texture and is often even finer than cashmere. While many nations concentrate on producing thicker wool for carpets, upholstery, and other furnishings, 90% of the world’s luxury clothing is made from Merino wool, which is native to Australia. This implies that a significant probability exists that any article of apparel you own, made of wool, originated from one of Australia’s 70 million sheep!

3. New Zealand

New Zealand is the third-largest wool producer in the world. Actually, sheep farming has long been the mainstay of the national economy, and they serve as a significant national symbol. The environment in New Zealand is ideal for sheep farming. It has a perfect climate, clean water, fresh air, a ton of grass, and a ton of devoted farmers.

Because of the topography and temperature of the nation, wool produced in New Zealand is notably coarser and thicker than that produced in Australia. Over the past few centuries, sheep have been crossbred by farmers to suit the particular environment of New Zealand. For instance, the Corriedale was a hybrid of multiple English sheep breeds and a Merino. Of the national flock, the Romney from New Zealand comprises approximately two thirds. Perendale and Coopworth sheep are farmed for both meat and wool, while Drysdale wool is mostly utilized in carpets.

4. Turkey

Turkey is fourth in the world for wool production, with 85,916 tons produced in 2021. Turkey is not only a big producer and supplier of wool, but it also enjoys a well-known reputation for producing textiles of the highest caliber. If you’ve ever handled clothing made in Turkey, you will be aware of the extraordinary skill and quality of Turkish wool! When it comes to wool apparel, the nation is a master at crafting pieces with grace, accuracy, and deft craftsmanship.

Turkey is thought to be home to 30 million sheep, the most of which are indigenous Akaraman sheep. Large populations of Merino and Karakul are also present. Each of the three breeds yields incredibly fine, adaptable wool. Turkish wool is used to create a wide range of exquisite goods, such as smooth, silky clothes and exquisite carpets.

5. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The United Kingdom has a long and rich history of producing wool, going all the way back to the Roman Empire! At the moment, the nation produces about 70,000 tons of wool annually. British wool is known for its resilience and has a high micron count. Because of this, it works especially well with indoor textiles including carpets, rugs, and upholstery fabrics. But it’s also frequently utilized in men’s suits and tweed cloth. About 25 distinct sheep breeds produce the wide variety of wool that is produced in Britain.

At least 25 distinct sheep breeds are taken care of by thousands of sheep farmers throughout the United Kingdom. On the other hand, the breed and its habitat have an impact on the kind of wool that is produced. Lowland breeds in Devon and Dorset tend to produce finer wool, while breeds from the North and Scotland tend to produce coarser yarn. On the other hand, because of the severe weather in their area, Welsh mountain sheep grow a thick and resilient fleece.

6. Morocco

Morocco produces an incredible diversity of wool kinds, with a yield of 62,670.16 tons of wool in 2021. Morocco boasts a rich tapestry of topography and temperatures. Morocco is not at the top of the world’s wool export rankings, despite having an abundance of wool resources. This is due to the fact that the majority of this valuable fiber is used domestically.

Over 99 percent of Morocco’s sheep population is comprised of native breeds. For instance, Beni Guil sheep inhabit the Eastern plateaus, where they forage for food in vast herds and roam freely. In contrast, d’man sheep inhabit the palm groves found in the southeast of the nation. Sardi sheep are large and robust and found on the western plateaus; Timahdite sheep are hardy enough to live in mountainous regions with very little help from humans. Although Algerian Arab sheep, also known as ouled Jellal sheep, are not indigenous to Morocco, they have long been raised in the country’s eastern parts and are suited to a nomadic lifestyle.

7. Iran (Islamic Republic of)

Iran has a long and illustrious history of textile making that dates back to the tenth millennium BCE. Persian weavers have always been appreciated for their skill, and many people view their products as genuine masterpieces. Currently, Iran produces more than 50,000 tons of wool, most of which is utilized to make handcrafted carpets. Indeed, among Iran’s most important non-oil exports, handcrafted carpets are ranked second only to the cherished pistachio!

The nation is home to an astounding 102 commercial wool-spinning mills, which together generate an astounding 24,000 tons of wool yarn a year. With a sizable goat population, Iran is also one of the world’s top producers of cashmere wool. In actuality, Iran produces about 1,500 tons of the 8,000 tons of cashmere that are produced worldwide.

8. Russian Federation

Russia has always relied heavily on sheep breeding; the nation generates about 50,000 tons of wool annually. For a very long time, Russia was the world top in the production of wool sheep, right after Australia, China, and New Zealand. However, Russia’s sheep population declined as a result of economic reforms in the early 1990s, and wool’s demand decreased internationally. Russian sheep breeding has recently shifted from producing wool to producing meat.

In Russia, there are numerous breeds of sheep that are used to make wool. The fat-rumped varieties Edilbai and Kalmyk, for instance, are native to the harsh, arid steppe areas of southern Russia. The hardy short-fat-tailed Tuva sheep live in the severe continental climate of the Trans-Baikal region. These sheep have adapted to live in this difficult environment. While Romanov sheep are found in Central Russia, Andean and Lezgin sheep inhabit the hilly regions of the North Caucasus where fodder supplies can be limited.

9. South Africa

The first Merino sheep reached the Cape in 1789, marking the start of South Africa’s commercialization of sheep husbandry and wool production. The sheep industry in Southern Africa continued to grow significantly during the colonial era, with the Cape Province becoming as one of the leading wool-producing regions. Actually, the phrase “Cape wool” has come to refer to any wool produced on the subcontinent.

There are over 15 million wool sheep in South Africa. Of these, the emerging and community sectors own almost four million. 42,406.34 tons of wool were produced in South Africa in 2021. A large portion of it is sold to nations including France, Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, China, and the Czech Republic. Merino sheep are the most prevalent breed of woolly sheep in South Africa. Other prevalent strains of Merinos are the Letelle, Dohne, and South African mutton Merinos.

10. Pakistan

With 43,4328.18 tons of wool produced in 2021, Pakistan is still another remarkable wool powerhouse. For thousands of years, sheep husbandry and wool production have played a significant role in Pakistan, especially in the country’s mountainous regions where raw materials are frequently spun and turned into warm apparel. Pakistani wool is now mostly used to make carpets, blankets, shawls, acrylic yarn, and woolen yarn.

With at least 25 different varieties of sheep in Pakistan, smallholder families dominate the country’s goat and sheep output. For instance, the fleece of Kajli sheep breeds is lustrous and white, whereas Lati or salt range sheep are raised for both their meat and wool. In addition to having incredibly silky and glossy wool, Kaghani sheep from Punjab and Sindh also yield a sizable amount of milk. While Lohi sheep have a distinctive reddish-brown fur that yields superior wool, Balochi sheep have immaculate white fur. Pakistan also enjoys great popularity with Merino sheep.

Which Country Makes the Finest Wool?

Many nations are distinguished in the manufacture of fine wool due to their distinct qualities and expertly made goods. On the other hand, Australia is generally acknowledged as the undisputed leader in the production of the best wool. The world’s finest and softest wool is Australian Merino, thanks to its perfect climate, plentiful acreage, and long-standing status as a leading participant in the industry.

What Is the US Comparatively?

Even though it may not be a large player in the wool production market, the United States is undoubtedly competitive. A few exceptional animals contributed to the remarkable 10,184 tons of wool produced in the United States in 2021. The Rambouillet, sometimes referred to as the French Merino, is one noteworthy breed. This breed, which originated in France and Germany from the Spanish Merino, is the foundation of many flocks in the western United States. It is well known for producing fleece made of fine wool.

The Columbia is yet another notable breed in the US. In actuality, this breed was the first to be created in the nation. It is the offspring of the Lincoln and Rambouillet crossed together. The Columbia sheep is a dependable source of hefty, high-quality wool because it produces medium wool fleeces with good staple length. Another well-known breed in the United States is the Raghee, which is primarily found in the northern and intermountain regions. These sheep are exceptional at generating heavy, medium-wool fleece with a long staple length, and they also produce outstanding market lambs.

Overview of the 10 Countries That Produce the Most Wool

Country Wool produced in 2019 Wool produced in 2020 Wool produced in 2021
China 341120.16 tons 333,624 tons 356,216 tons
Australia 328,608 tons 283,794 tons 348,608 tons
New Zealand 139,622.06 tons 133,836.31 tons 125,772.17 tons
Turkey 70,587 tons 79,754 tons 79,754 tons
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 69,621.16 tons 70,021.3 tons 70,447.56 tons
Morocco 60,606.21 tons 61,342.17 tons 62,670.16 tons
Iran (Islamic Republic of) 56,050.47 tons 54,703.47 tons 52,504.36 tons
Russian Federation 50,211 tons 51,660 tons 47,838 tons
South Africa 44,683.34 tons 43,216.73 tons 42,406.34 tons
Pakistan 43,538.23 tons 43,448.62 tons 43,328.18 tons