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Source: New Zealand Government

A plan to revitalise New Zealand’s strong wool sector and set it on a new, more sustainable and profitable path was unveiled today by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor.

The newly-released report – Vision and Action for New Zealand’s Wool Sector – was developed by the Wool Industry Project Action Group and sets out three recommendations to help the strong wool sector grow and thrive:

  • Develop a market-focused investment case and strategic roadmap for the strong wool sector.
  • Establish the capability necessary to get the sector match fit and ready for the opportunities ahead.
  • Establish a governance and coordination capability.

“I set up the Action Group to take a fresh look at New Zealand’s strong wool sector, and develop a plan to build the necessary foundations and set a new course for future growth,” Damien O’Connor said

“The sector had been in a long-term decline over recent decades, which was made worse by the global trade disruption caused by Covid-19.

“While the Project Action Group’s report paints a grim, but accurate, picture of a sustained lack of investment and breakdown of wool industry structures, it outlines a vision for the sector and a way forward.                                                                                              

“I now want to see the sector step up. There’s no single idea or government policy to solve the wool sector’s problems. For this work to have real impact, greater participation and ownership by the wool sector is needed. Our challenge now is to bring the people who are really going to shift the dial together and connect them with the support they need to succeed.”

“Earlier this week the Prime Minister and I announced we’re bringing forward $84 million of SFF Futures funding for innovative and creative projects, to support delivery of our Fit for a Better World – Accelerating our Economic Potential Roadmap. I expect there will be many innovative wool projects that can benefit from this increase in available funding.

“By way of example, today I’m pleased to announce SFF Futures support for Woolchemy NZ Limited, an innovative New Zealand company that aims to transform wool into something more valuable, using sustainable, environmental and ethical processes.  Woolchemy will receive almost $80,000 to investigate a sustainable, intelligent non-woven textile that incorporates New Zealand strong wool for use in nappies.

“Businesses like AgWool are reimagining the traditional strong wool supply chain, and organisations like Lanaco and the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand are innovating to find new and high-value uses for strong wool.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Wool Industry Project Action Group for their dedication and strong contributions. This is the start of a new chapter for the strong wool sector, and I’m excited by what lies ahead.”

Businesses and organisations interested in contributing to putting the Project Action Group’s recommendations into action should get in touch with the Ministry for Primary Industries.

You can read the Action Group’s full report and learn more about getting involved here.

Additional information

The Wool Industry Project Action Group (PAG) was formed out of the 2018 Wool Summit and the subsequent work of the Wool Industry Working Group. The purpose of the group is to be a catalyst for change in the New Zealand wool sector – with a particular focus on strong wool – to:

  • help the sector identify developing global opportunities for consumer products made from natural fibres, particularly wool, in a uniquely New Zealand way;
  • enable the sector to understand where investment and collaboration is required to respond to these emerging opportunities and what the sector and government roles should be;
  • through these actions, see the demand for high-quality wool from New Zealand farmers increase and the profitability and viability of sheep farming in hill country New Zealand strengthened.

Action Group members:

  • John Rodwell Independent Chair – farming and investment banking perspective
  • Kate Acland Strong wool farmer – farming perspective
  • Paul Alston Chief Executive Officer, Cavalier Bremworth – manufacturer
  • Andy Cooper Science Impact Leader, AgResearch – research and development
  • Grant Edwards General Manager, PGG Wrightson Wool – broker and exporter
  • Paul Ensor Fine wool farmer – farming perspective
  • Sandra Faulkner Strong wool farmer – farming perspective
  • Steve Williamson General Manager Creative, NZ Merino Company and Studio ZQ – marketing and consumer perspectives (subsequent meetings)
  • Peter Whiteman Managing Director, Segard Masurel (NZ) Ltd – exporter