Farmers, buyers and carpet makers are warming to an initiative to reinvigorate the struggling wool industry.
A new directive to prefer the use of woollen fibres in government agency buildings “where practical” has the potential to transform the rural sector.
The New Zealand wool industry has been at an all-time low in the last five years, however, this new move could be the boost the industry needs, according to PGG Wrightson North Island wool manager Allan Jones.
Currently, the price for excellent quality hogget wool sits near $2.85 per “greasy” kilogram, whereas not so long ago similar wool would be valued at $5.85 per kg.
A 32-micron hogget wool was sold at a recent sale for $3.60 per clean kg, yet at a peak period similar wool would have fetched $7.50 per kg.
Wool carpets are a more sustainable option and can regulate humidity through the absorption of moisture when the air is damp and release the moisture when the air is dry.
Hawke’s Bay Federated Farmers president Jim Galloway believes the new policy is a good starting point.
“It’s not going to solve all the issues, but it certainly sends some good signals to the industry that the Government wants to put some good environmental practices in place,” he said
Galloway said farmers have hardly broken even when it came to shearing and it became a matter of health for the animal rather than profitable exercise.
“It costs to shear your sheep, we get less for the wool than what it costs to shear it and if we can increase that to break even for a start, and then start to make a profit on it would be something worthwhile.”
Jones is hopeful about what the policy can achieveas he awaits the influx of wool in the next two months.
“The policy with the wool in schools and wool in government buildings is going to be really beneficial because it is going to get everyone interested in wool again, like they were years ago,” he said.
“I would hope that in 2024 we would start to see a movement upwards of wool prices,” he said.
Bremworth chief executive Greg Smith said he felt positive about the announcement and is excited about the future of New Zealand wool.
Smith said he hoped the Government was not merely looking to substitute imported wool carpets for imported synthetic carpets because imported wool was cheaper.
Michaela Gower joined Hawke’s Bay Today in 2023 and is based out of the Hastings newsroom. She covers Dannevirke and Hawke’s Bay news and has a love for sharing stories about farming and rural communities.