Wool industry calls to strengthen message around wool products

Rural Exchange 21/07/2018

While the wool industry continues to struggle with record-low returns, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is working towards building the industry back up.

Agriculture Minister Damien O'Connor hosted a Wool Summit for industry stakeholders in Wellington aimed at coming up with a plan for positioning wool in an increasingly cutthroat market.

The environmental story hasn’t been told particularly well.

Federated Farmers’ meat and wool chair Miles Anderson said he left the Summit “quite optimistic”.

“The biggest problem is we’ve been out-competed by synthetic fibres, we don’t tell our story very well.

“The environmental story hasn’t been told particularly well,” he told RadioLIVE.

According to Mr Anderson, the synthetic fibre sector has been very good at “running down the opposition production” while the wool industry remains timid in its marketing.

Host Richard Loe, who is a former cross-breed grower, suggested that industry call on the Government to prioritise wool products in its upcoming projects like KiwiBuild.

Loe also argued that growers need to be louder in their message about wool, particularly in an age where people are becoming more conscious of the environmental impact of synthetic materials.

“There’s a lot we can be doing,” he suggested.

The strong wool sector primarily supplies fibre for carpets, but is still struggling against synthetics despite creating a natural, biodegrable product. 

The wool industry also faces a shortage of shearers with an aging population and a job that’s earning less than shearers in Australia.

The NZ Shearing Contractors Association has recommended its member contractors close the pay gap with Australia by increasing shearers’ pay and entitlements by up to 25 percent.

Mr Anderson explains that a pay increase will help attract more workers into the industry.

“If we don’t get the sheep shorn, we can’t sell the wool,” he said with a chuckle.

Watch the full interview with Miles Anderson above. 

Rural Exchange with Hamish McKay, Sarah Perriam and Richard Loe, 5-7am Saturday and Sunday on RadioLIVE with Carter’s Tyre Service. Click here for all the ways to watch and listen.

RadioLIVE.