Brand power is increasing demand for wool
New Zealand’s strong wool market, both export and domestic, has been declining for the past forty years, so why are we seeing news about wool making a comeback with headlines like; ‘a huge rise in strong-wool demand’ and ‘strong wool growth’. What is changing and why?
“We are seeing consumers’ habits change as they look for sustainable materials. Big brands internationally are looking to natural fibres as a safe, healthy fibre alternative” – Andy Caughey, Wool Impact CEO.
Wool Impact has been researching brands to understand where new, sustainable, opportunities sit for increasing the use of New Zealand’s strong wool. Traditionally strong wool has been used in rugs and carpets and New Zealand’s leading carpet brands are reporting they have increased domestic demand, welcome news for growers.
Demand for the fibre is also coming from new categories like acoustic tiles for walls and ceilings, insulation, furniture, bedding, clothing and socks, hygiene products, sanitary items and bandages.
Beyond fibre, wool bio-materials are forming a new horizon of demand; particles, powders and pigments can then be used in paints, skin care, printer inks and dyes for garment printing.
Brands like Big Save, Honest Wolf, Wisewool and FLOC are using wool in innovative ways. Big Save are now putting wool into bedding and furniture to move away from plastics and foam. Honest Wolf have opened the door for wool to hero in bags and accessories. A company in Timaru uses wool in a geo tech application for earth works. This sector is increasingly exciting.
If predictions of domestic brands actively advocating for wool in their product ranges are realised, strong wool use in New Zealand over the next two years will double and by 2028 could consume around 40,000 tonnes of a total 100,000 tonnes of clean wool produced annually.
Representing wool as a responsible and sustainable choice for consumers is crucial to increasing the demand for strong wool and generating greater returns for New Zealand farmers.
Advocating the current high standards of environmental care and animal welfare amongst New Zealand farmers is important. Wool Impact has funded and supported the establishment of the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) as a lever that will build brand trust and value in New Zealand wool globally.