Australian Wool Innovation Ltd (AWI) has welcomed what it describes as a "resurgence of the wool industry in Russia", after several country representatives expressed a keen interest to source Australian wool again.

For the first time in 20 years, representatives from Russian woollen mills, scourers, weavers and fibre experts travelled to woolgrowing sites in New South Wales and Victoria last week, before meeting exporters in Melbourne. 

The return of Russian interests, AWI says, is significant given the large potential the country's former states have for processing and consuming the natural fibre.

Russia bought up to 30% of Australia's wool clip in 1991, according to AWI, but trade stopped with the fall of the USSR. In recent years, Russian mills have been sourcing locally produced wool and broader wool from Argentina.

"We think this is just the tip of the iceberg," said AWI chairman Wal Merriman. "This is the start of a resurgence of the wool industry in Russia both in wool processing and consumption. It has the three trigger points of cold climate, increasing wealth and a large population.

"They already wear wool, they know the product."