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'Change' – new buzzword for NZ fine wool industry
08
May '12
Changes are vital for the New Zealand wool industry to be able to meet the rising global demand for fine wool. It was echoed at a conference organized by the New Zealand Merino (NZM) Company in Christchurch.

The conference was attended by about 600 wool farmers and NZM partners from around the world.

Addressing the conference, John Brakenridge, Chief Executive of NZM, said the primary wool sector in New Zealand played a significant role in the country's economic prosperity and it must change and find new ways in order to remain effective and meet the growing demand for more fine wool from global brands.

One example of growing demand is that total sales of woolen apparels in the US active outdoors markets have increased from US$ 80 million in 2003 to US$ 280 million in 2011. A large share of this wool has its origin in New Zealand.

Merino garments once had no market in active outdoors category and today it accounts for 15 percent share. With the rise in segments such as running, cycling and snow sports, the diversity of product offerings would boom creating still larger demand for wool, Gretchen Kane, NZM International Marketing Manager, said.

The growing demand for wool has led NZM to introduce projects with assistance from the Government's Primary Growth Partnership (PGP). These projects would focus on genetics and other sciences to raise the potential of New Zealand Merino industry to meet the greater need for fine wool, informed Mr. Brakenridge.

Francesco Botto Poala, Chief Executive of Reda, which supplies woolen woven fabric to leading apparel retailers, said it was in 2009 that the company understood that it had to change completely.

Mr. Poala added that his company has created the new Rewoolution range of performance apparel and is ready to work with other partners for brining further changes.

Mr. Andy Caughey, representing the UK-based Armadillo Merino, said his company is innovating and taking the merino fibre to a completely new set of users, including the military and emergency services personnel, and thus creating a new demand for New Zealand fine wool.

NZM's General Manager of supply, innovation and logistics, Mike Hargadon, suggested that the increased demand by partners can be met by breeding fine-wool sheep that had greater adaptability to varying geographical regions.

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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