Wool remains military staple

The U.S. Department of Defense continues to be a valuable customer for the U.S. wool industry even though fiscal year 2015 (Oct. 1, 2014 – Sept. 30, 2015) was a year of decline. Budget constraints combined with declining personnel in uniform generally meant significant reductions in all areas of procurement. In spite of the declines in the clothing and textile budget, the Defense Logistics Agency still contracted for more than $1.9 billion in clothing and textile items with wool filling a significant portion of the total purchases.

Some of the wool contracts awarded in this fiscal year included:

Three new five-year fabric contracts worth up to $46 million that will produce up to 2.8 million yards of dress-uniform fabrics. This represents approximately 2 million pounds of grade 64’s wool over the life of the contracts.

A new five-year ‘Peacoat’ contract valued at up to $48 million was granted. The Navy Peacoat is one of the ‘heavy lifters’ in wool consumption. It is made of 100 percent U.S. wool and weighs an average of 3.5 pounds. The five-year contract could produce up to 197,880 coats using 692,580 pounds of clean grade 62’s wool.

Two new wool blanket contracts were awarded for the production of up to 242,000 items valued at $7.4 million. Like the Peacoat, the blankets use a significant amount of wool. More than 950,000 pounds of wool will be required over five years to produce these blankets.

The Army and Air Force berets continue to be produced and use large quantities of wool. Two new five-year contracts worth up to $58.5 million dollars have been awarded. A beret may not weigh much but when 2.7 million of them are made, the amount of wool used adds up to more than a half-million pounds.

In addition to the new contracts, there were also sizeable orders placed against existing contracts:

Dress uniform fabrics accounted for 2.6 million linear yards valued at $36.6 million using approximately 1.2 million pounds of clean grade 64’s wool.

There were 82,049 Peacoats purchased for $10.2 million utilizing 287,000 pounds of wool.

The Army and Air Force ordered 157,373 berets that used more than 29,000 pounds of clean wool.

And finally, at least 11,000 wool blankets were bought using more than 40,000 pounds of American wool.

–American Sheep Industry