Wool levy funds 7 entrepreneurial projects

July 12, 2011

Seven entrepreneurial projects using wool will share half a million dollars from Beef + Lamb NZ.

The cash comes from a contestable fund set up to share out the remaining wool levies, with the money going to businesses demonstrating the greatest potential to pump money back into the wool industry – and ultimately, into farmers’ pockets.

Some of the projects aim to do this by achieving savings through the development of tools and systems for improved efficiency and consistency. Others are focused on increasing demand for wool through research and the creation of new products and niche markets.

The successful applicants were chosen by an advisory panel from 28 bids by farmer groups, wool industry service providers and manufacturers.

B+LNZ Chief Operating Officer, Cros Spooner says it was exciting to review all 28 projects. “It shows there is some genuine passion and talent with companies involved in the New Zealand wool industry.”

“We believe each of the seven projects we’ve funded has a very real chance of delivering value back to New Zealand farmers, which is great news.”

To ensure the Wool Levy Fund distribution improves returns for wool growers, applicants were required to show their commitment to investing time, money and resources in the success of the project. Each of the successful projects will be matched 50:50 with funding from the applicant group.

  • Eastbourne-based Potroz-Smith Technologies Ltd is researching the production
    of an environmentally friendly, super absorbent wool-based material for use in
    personal hygiene and wound-care products that will be natural, non-toxic and
    biodegradable.
  • NZ Wool Services International will focus on developing practical tools to
    avoid underweight bales, which currently cost the industry an estimated
    $4million a year. The company is based in Christchurch.
  • Wellington company and sustainable textile inventor The Formary is looking
    at blending New Zealand strong wool and a waste material to develop a range of
    commercial and domestic interior products.
  • Wool Partners International and Banks Peninsula Wool Growers Group are
    working together to develop a truly sustainable carpet using natural processes
    and materials, including low pesticide, ethically-produced, traceable New
    Zealand wool.
  • Invercargill’s Alliance Group plans to incorporate wool production into its
    Hoofprint software package (developed in conjunction with Dunedin-based
    AbacusBio to measure on-farm carbon footprints). The company will work with NZ
    wool producers and marketers to gain extra market value for Hoofprint-accredited
    wool products.
  • Wool’s eco-friendly properties are the basis for a project by Matamata
    manufacturer Wool Equities, which will carry out market research, design and
    produce samples, and establish markets for high value bed blankets for premium
    international markets.
  • The New Zealand Shearing Contractors’ Association will use the funding to
    establish a quality assurance programme, underpinning recent work to ensure
    accredited shearing operators provide consistent product descriptions and
    demonstrate socially sound and sustainable business practices.

RadioNZ has a story on one of the recipients. Protroz-Smith Technologies is developing a super absorbent wool-based material called NatraZorb, to be used in disposable nappies, personal hygiene and wound care products .


Good news for wool in spite of word war

January 14, 2011

A war of words has broken out between the Wool Exporters Council and Wool Partners Co-operative.

WEC says the wool co-op will never get over the line and reckons the co-op isn’t answering its questions.

WPC in return says that wool merchants and exporters aligned with the WEC are trying to undermine efforts to float the co-op.

While that’s going on there has been good news for the industry.

Wool Partners has made a second premium offer to growers who can supply high quality wool required by two British carpet manufacturers.

America’s largest carpet manufacturer has joined Wools of New Zealand’s Clean Air Certified programme.

Wool Partners International Chief Executive Officer Iain Abercrombie says Karastan’s certification and adoption of the programme is a further endorsement of the work Wools of New Zealand is undertaking to position New Zealand wool as the premier natural carpet fibre, produced in ethically sustainable manner.

 “This is further verification of the programmes we have been discussing with New Zealand growers to gain the recognition and the true value of the high quality wools they produce.”

 “It is intensive marketing backed by technical expertise developed by Wools of New Zealand, to delight consumers with the sheer luxury of naturally produced New Zealand wool.”

Programmes like this also require research and that’s been given a boost by the government.

Minister of Agriculture David Carter and Minister of Research, Science and Technology Wayne Mapp announced the investment of $17.25 million over five years in a wool research consortium tasked with lifting the economic return of the wool industry.

“The success of the strong wool sector hinges on developing new uses and markets for the industry – and with the growers themselves realising its full potential,” says Mr Carter.

“We are committed to growing New Zealand’s export earnings from wool fibre, and from value-added wool products developed through market-led research programmes,” Dr Mapp says.

The consortium participants are the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand Inc (WRInc), and other New Zealand industry stakeholders. Key providers will include AgResearch and New Zealand universities. . .

“The wool industry is collaborating across the value chain to address key research questions, and the Government is supporting them,” says Dr Mapp.

Mr Carter says increased research and development for the wool sector was one of the key recommendations of his Wool Taskforce, which presented its report last year.

“The Wool Research Organisation’s constructive engagement through the Wool Unity Group has shown what can be achieved by better cohesion and co-operation within the wool industry,” Mr Carter says.

Collaboration and co-operation are working to good effect for research. It would also help with the marketing and wool exporters would be better employed concentrating on work which would maximise returns for growers than bickering with WPC which is trying to do that.


Wool + waste = winner

October 15, 2010

Wool Partners International  will be supplying wool for WoJo – a furnishing fabric developed for Starbucks.

The Wellington based design team The Formary created WoJoTM for Starbucks by combining LaneveTM wool, with its sustainable, ethical and traceable qualities, with jute from recycled coffee sacks, to form the new furnishing fabric.

The fabric uses 70% strong and mid fibre wool and the jute is recycled from Starbucks’ coffee sacks.

Mixing wool with waste has to be a winner – a natural product meets waste reduction.

 Federated Farmers meat and fibre spokesman Bruce Wills is excited about the venture:

“It’s an inspiring twist on the adage of something new and something old.

“While the initial focus of WoJo is upholstering Starbucks’ 8,000 stores outside of the United States, The Formary has really created a whole new ecologically friendly fabric.

“With the manufacturing partnership with Yorkshire-based Camira, we have a genuine opportunity to get wool back into people’s minds for their homes, offices, schools and even public transport.   Not just here but right around the globe.

“It’s easy to overlook the nearly $600 million that wool generates each year for New Zealand.  Yet we feel the potential is more than five times that sum, if, and that’s the key word, we can spark wool’s renaissance. 

“The Formary’s commitment to wool shows it is possible and we believe New Zealand Trade and Enterprise can see the vast potential that wool has. 

“It’s this kind of joined-up approach to market and product development with the exporters, that will make consumers take that all-important second look at wool. . . “

Wool should tick all the boxes for consumers who want a natural, renewable product and WoJo is a wonderful example of what can be done with it.

More good news followed this announcement – a continuing world shortage of wool is having a positive impact on the price.

Although meat companies often get blamed for the depressed state of the sheep industry, meat prices haven’t been bad. It’s low prices for wool and other by-products which have kept returns low.

Big losses in the southern snow storms and restocking will keep the supply of lambs low this season which will also help prices.


%d bloggers like this: