Georgian wool has become the first product of animal origin to be exported to the market of the European Union (EU), marking a further step on Georgia’s deepening trade ties with the EU.
A second shipment of 45 tonnes of Georgian wool is scheduled for export in approximately two weeks’ time. The first shipment (22 tonnes) took place in December of 2016.
Local Georgian Wool Company received permission from the EU and the National Food Agency of Georgia approximately one year ago to export 22 tonnes of raw (unwashed) wool to Great Britain.
Our British partners were satisfied with the first test shipment and placed an additional order. Following their request, we are preparing a shipment of 45 tonnes of wool. Our product ranges in price from $0.45-0.80”, the Director of Georgian Wool Company, Zaur Yuliev, told Agenda.ge.
The National Food Agency of Georgia said the State has "done all in its power” to receive permission to export Georgian wool to the EU. Furthermore, the Agency was obliged to perform company inspections twice annually to ensure that their practices meet EU standards.
According to EU Directives N 142/2011 and 97/78, industry standards dictate that third-country wool producers must be registered with the country’s National Food Agency, which is designed to guarantee that livestock (in this case, sheep) do not show signs of contagious diseases.
Other requirements wool producers and exporters are required to meet include:
- The provision of safe and dry packaging for wool; and
- The direct delivery of wool to production plants, in order to prevent the spreading of pathogenic agents.
The Shepherds Association of Georgia reported 266,000 live sheep were exported from Georgia in 2009; 178,000 in 2010; 155,000 in 2011; and 170,000 in 2012.
Georgian shepherds claimed the number of sheep exported in 2014 reached 220,000, of which 70,000 originated from Armenia.
Between 80 and 85 percent of all sheep in Georgia are of the Tushetian variety: the most ancient Georgian sheep breed that emerged in the 13th-14th centuries as a result of traditional selective breeding.
Imeretian sheep are reared in western Georgia and make up 10-15 percent of all sheep in the country.
As of today, Georgian wool is also exported to India, Ukraine and China.
The next product to be exported to the EU market will be Georgian honey. The National Food Agency of Georgia reported the EU has already completed formal procedures in this direction.