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Key technology for Elders strong-wool strategy

Key technology for Elders strong-wool strategy announced

Elders Primary Wool has announced a further step towards increasing the return for its strong-wool growers.

Elders has negotiated a world-wide exclusive option for traceability technology to track the origin of wool used in carpets from VTT Marketing Limited an Auckland based venture capital company drawing on technology developed by AgResearch’s textile division at Lincoln.

The product is currently undergoing commercial testing with international carpet manufacturer Godfrey Hirst. If testing proves successful, Elders plans to immediately deploy the technology in carpets made with New Zealand wool.

The tracing technology has the potential to ensure a carpet buyer can actually see the carpet includes New Zealand wool - a sustainable and environmentally friendly fibre. With the majority of the strong wool produced in New Zealand used in carpets, the technology has the potential to add substantial value to the benefit of New Zealand wool growers.

Many carpet manufacturers have been claiming to use New Zealand wool due to its superior qualities, however there is currently no way to verify wool content. As a result New Zealand growers have been missing out. This technology will allow Elders to differentiate their wool and maximise its value.

“We are pleased to be working with Elders in testing this technology. The majority of high quality carpet manufactures prefer wool in their carpets and this system will ensure the integrity of the supply chain for the whole industry,” says John Sheffield, Vice President, Godfrey Hirst USA.

“In the US we have an industry standard for carpet sustainability and traceability – which is a marketable asset if you meet it. There is no current technology that reliably allows us to meet this standard for wool, which makes this product extremely valuable. If this technology transfers to large carpet volumes this will guarantee that the quality New Zealand wool placed in carpets will not be degraded with other fibre or lesser quality wool.”

“This new technology provides us with the ability to maintain integrity in the value chain, and will give all participants the confidence that they are getting exactly the fibre and carpet that they are expecting,” said Stu Chapman, Managing Director of Elders New Zealand. “Elders and our partners in the US are extremely excited by the results so far.”

Rob Finch General Manager of Food and Textiles at AgResearch is pleased to see the work they have undertaken being picked up commercially.

“We are excited about how Elders are planning to use the technology to benefit NZ sheep farmers,” says Finch.

Elders believes that this technology is one way in which the Elders strong-wool initiative will ensure a premium price from the carpet purchaser, which will then flow down the value chain to their growers.

Additional Information
• The tracer technology is called Verifi TT (VTT) and has been developed by AgResearch at Lincoln in partnership with an Australian company. To date, the technology has been used to authenticate clothes labels for the luxury apparel industry.
• “The technology is invisible to the eye and has no discernable effect on the textile’s properties,” said Mr Rob Finch, General Manager of Food and Textiles at AgResearch. “We’re excited by the potential for the system to revolutionise the international textile markets, by authenticating and protecting valuable brands such as that being developed by Elders for its strong-wool clients.”
• Elders, CCA Global Partners and their US carpet manufacturers intend to take the technology further by blending a tiny fibre into carpet wool, something which can be achieved at any stage along the value chain.
• New Zealand wool, supplied by Elders, will have its own “signature” which will be picked up by hand held readers used at CCA Global stores and at various locations along the manufacturing process.
• The primary consumer benefit in using New Zealand wool is that it is the only environmentally friendly fibre widely used in carpets. Making carpet ‘green’ allows for a premium retail price. However consumers are increasingly becoming wary of environmentally friendly claims. The VTT technology allows Elders to provide the hand-on-heart assurances of integrity, provenance and sustainability consumers are demanding.

ENDS

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