Comment: Now is a champagne moment for wool, says Miles Anderson of Federated Farmers, and it's exciting that our premium product is getting attention from a leading UK retail group.
Telling the story of wool is one of the keys to its successful resurgence as the global fibre of choice, says Wools of New Zealand.
The grower-owned wool company has launched its new 12-part 'wool benefits' marketing programme aimed at re-introducing the world to the sustainable and renewable fibre.
Read more from Federated Farmers here.
Federated Farmers couldn't agree more, and it's encouraging to see the creativity of the approach recognised with a flooring innovation award for marketing this month at this year's National Flooring Innovation Awards at Harrogate in the UK.
I also note that the initiative has appeal for our local wool growers. West Otago grower Lloyd Brenssell, who runs 41,000 stock units on his 10,500-hectare property, says sheep farmers have been looking for something to happen with the marketing of wool for some time.
Three years ago, wool from his Fernvale property at Moa Flat sold for an average $6 a kilogram. This year around half of that sales price was achieved.
More understanding needed
Lloyd Brenssell says that part of the problem is the public's lack of appreciation of the natural qualities of the fibre.
"People simply don't understand wool and its qualities. Government is very vocal around plastic use and plastic waste; what we should also be shouting about on the environmental side are the natural products that our farmers produce.
"This is an exciting initiative for the promotion of crossbred wool. Finally, something that will inform the general public about the attributes of wool and we need to continue distributing material of this kind and getting it in front of consumers."
It's exciting too to see a win for Wools of New Zealand, as they have earned the status of preferred supplier for leading UK retail group John Lewis, a significant retail partner for leading carpet manufacturer Ulster Carpets.
Andrew Gicquel, Retail Sales Manager at Ulster Carpets, says that they have worked in partnership with Wools of New Zealand for several years, notably to develop the popular Open Spaces Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington Stripe ranges.
In short, it's a champagne moment for wool, and exciting news that our premium product is getting attention from a leading UK retail group like John Lewis.
Wool is natural, renewable and biodegradable and these qualities are creating waves of interest as innovators frantically look for sustainable alternatives.
For example, NASA is testing New Zealand wool filters on Orion's emergency life-support system for on-board fires. There are even wool surfboards and shoes.
Consumer awareness is key
Consumer awareness is key to the recovery of the wool industry. It's great to see real stories being told in a real context; we know wool is a superior product that simply cannot be replicated by a synthetic fibre.
Simple, honest messages based on the fundamentals of style, people and planet, and backed by research that are giving frontline retailers and others throughout the supply chain the confidence to promoting crossbred wool are timely, to say the least.
This just could be the beginning of the wool revolution.
- Miles Anderson is Wool Chair of Federated Farmers.