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Wool industry needs to become more user-centric

"Low financial returns have pitched New Zealand’s crossbred wool industry into a crisis. To avert this, crossbred wool needs to be treated less like a commodity and its model overhauled to become more user-centric by the time it enters the marketplace, feels New Zealand Merino senior procurement manager Craig Adams. At the recent Farming's Social License: A Genetic Solution field day at Duncraigen Farm, near Wyndham, he observed the model used to sell crossbred wool was damaging the wool industry since it was not focused on what consumers were asking for and needed to adapt to become end-user centric."

 

Wool industry needs to become more user centric 002Low financial returns have pitched New Zealand’s crossbred wool industry into a crisis. To avert this, crossbred wool needs to be treated less like a commodity and its model overhauled to become more user-centric by the time it enters the marketplace, feels New Zealand Merino senior procurement manager Craig Adams. At the recent Farming's Social License: A Genetic Solution field day at Duncraigen Farm, near Wyndham, he observed the model used to sell crossbred wool was damaging the wool industry since it was not focused on what consumers were asking for and needed to adapt to become end-user centric.

The need to shift

The wool industry operates with an adversarial approach, which leaves the farmers vulnerable to commodityWool industry needs to become more user centric 001 prices. Adams argued the model needed to shift to one where the value chain was aligned and there was transparency through the supply chain. The companies were willing to spend on premium products, instead of sourcing wool cheaper at auction because they wanted the confidence that the ethically-sourced story they were marketing their products with was correct.

NZ Merino has signed a seven year deal through the Ministry for Primary Industries' Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) for strong wool called Wool Unleashed, or W3, in 2016, to boost the prospects of strong wool in the same way the company has done with merino. The company has also partnered companies such as Allbirds, Glerups, Smartwool and Icebreaker to provide fine wool supplied by its farmers in contracts to international businesses. It aims to be the largest supplier of ethically sourced premium and luxury wool in the world, and they wanted to partner with people who shared the same ideas, Adams said.

Tapping new opportunities

In the past, strong wool had been mainly used for carpeting and Italian wool suits. However, to improve industry profitability it needed to shift towards looking for new users and new uses of wool. The health and lifestyle sector is an area where wool is being embraced. Glerups and All Birds shoe brands are using wool products as are clothing lines.

But NZ Merino had only just started scratching the surface of opportunities for strong wool. The company has an opportunity to target premium wool products to "elite" people who have money to spend. The aim is to be the biggest supplier of ethically sourced premium and luxury wool in the world. They are looking to partner people who share similar ideas

 

 
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