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New Drive For Strong Wool Profitability Gaining Impetus, Feds Says

New Zealand’s wool industry is entering an exciting new era of collaboration, innovation and consumer-focus to deliver game changing profitability to farmers, William Beetham says.

"We’re really pleased to see industry players work together to end fragmentation and concentrate on driving extra value from the superior attributes we all know that strong wool entails," the Federated Farmers Meat and Wool Chairperson said.

"I believe it’s all adding up to a new dawn for New Zealand strong wool."

William pointed to recent initiatives, including:

-A proposed merger of two main farmer owned co-operatives (Wools of NZ - 730 farmers; Primary Wool Co-operative - 1,400 farmers), with the aim of an integrated supply chain. Farmers will vote on the idea in November but prior to then the Primary Wool Co-operative will become owner of CP Wool brokers by buying Carrfields’ 50% holding.

-The Wool Research Organisation of NZ (WRONZ) has just announced a world-class research initiative with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and development of unique wool particles, powders and pigments with global export potential for applications as diverse as cosmetics, printing, luxury goods and personal care.

-A joined-up farm assurance programme is underway, backed by 23 wool companies. The aim is to build systems to ensure a standard of supply and traceability that meets market expectations.

"We’re moving beyond selling our clip as a raw product as we look for high-value, branded consumer products that capitalize on strong wool’s natural, sustainable, super-warm, fire-retardant, non-leaching, moisture and mould-resistant credentials," William said.

The initiatives already mentioned come on the back of companies such as Cavalier-Bremworth, Big Save Furniture and Merino NZ championing strong wool, and the push into USA markets with branded wool product opportunities by the Strong Wool Action Group (SWAG).

"This progress is a culmination of advocacy by my predecessors, Federated Farmers Meat & Wool leaders such as Miles Anderson and Rick Powdrell, and also many other individuals, agencies and companies throughout the supply chain. I also acknowledge government investment and Minister Damien O’Connor, who has pretty much made this one of his key missions.

"I’m really buoyed by this determination to lift our game, tell the exceptional story of our wool’s provenance, and get better returns for New Zealand farmers."

There’s a long road ahead to get to where everyone wants the strong wool industry to be and part of that is a commitment by farmers to meet assurance standards, William said. There also maybe a requirement for farmers to further invest in their industry.

"But when we get there the potential rewards are huge," he added.

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