Why not wool?

Why not wool for carpets, insulation and furnishings? I asked in today’s Paddock Talk column in the ODT.

It’s not online, but this is: retailers floored by lack of promotion.

Talk to the co-owners of a United States flooring retailer about wool and it becomes clear why crossbred wool has struggled to connect with carpet buyers.

Kaddy Carpenter Ward and her sister, Jane Rinaca, say until very recently there had been no promotional or advertising material to support the sales of woollen carpets in the United States – the world’s largest carpet market.

Compare that with nylon carpet, and Mrs Rinaca said that since manufacturers had solved issues such as weave and lustre, the product had been supported to the point where it was promoted as being sustainable because used carpets were being recycled.

That’s what we’re up against.

Wool isn’t going to sell when it’s up against such tough competition and consumers don’t understand its qualities – or even how it’s harvested:

Mrs Rinaca said many people in the US still believed sheep were killed to produce wool, a misconception they put to rest when they shore a sheep on a Hawkes Bay farm.

Wool ticks all the boxes for people seeking natural, renewable, sustainable products – it also passes the touch test:

“Nylon has been made to look like wool, but they will never make it feel like wool,” Mrs Carpenter Ward said.

With all that going for it wool ought to be selling itself  but of course it won’t if people don’t know about it.

3 Responses to Why not wool?

  1. JC says:

    I well remember Muldoon’s austerity budget in 1967 when “the wool cheque failed”, and the wool mountains that persisted long after that.

    Fast forward 40 years and I’m out on an old client’s block looking at selling the trees I’d planted for him 26 years earlier.. his steep sheep and beef property had appreciated from the modest $1000 per ha in the early 80s to nearly $20,000/ha under the impacts of much better lamb prices and dairy runoff, but he still couldn’t afford to give a permanent job to his daughter without giving up an overseas trip.

    Back 40 years the average farmer was already 55 years old, and when the wool cheque failed he either tightened his belt or sold up.. thats hardly a stable industry to go chasing new markets or putting money into research and/or advertising. I should imagine the average age of the sheep and beef farmer now isn’t much younger, and the younger ones will be struggling with purchase price debt.. again difficult to see the energy and money to fire up an almost moribund wool industry.



  2. kismet says:

    Actually I had a bit of a browse in a knitting shop the other week and was shocked at how much knitting yarn is now not wool. The baby yarns in particular were mostly synthetic – I had to go right to the end of the selection to find some 4 ply merino.

    And I don’t care how wonderful it is – when it comes to carpet if it isn’t at least 80% wool it isn’t going in my house!

    The wool marketing people need to push the green angle IMO


  3. homepaddock says:

    “shocked at how much knitting yarn is now not wool.”

    We’re better served down here, at least for baby knitting, the shop in Oamaru I use has all wool and mostly machine washable merino.

    If you’re going to spend the time and money on knitting you might as well do it with the best material and that’s wool.
    “And I don’t care how wonderful it is – when it comes to carpet if it isn’t at least 80% wool it isn’t going in my house!”

    Me too. A wee bit of something synthetic might be okay, but no more than 20%.


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