Grant could be boost for wool sector

Spools of yarn at Cavalier’s Whanganui plant. Photo: Supplied.
Spools of yarn at Cavalier’s Whanganui plant. Photo: Supplied.
The Government has made moves to back New Zealand’s wool products.

Cavalier Corporation Ltd announced to the NZX yesterday that its Bremworth carpet business had secured a $1.9million grant as part of Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures (SFFF) programme.

The grant will be used by the company to help co-fund its $4.9 million research programme to support the development of a science-based and environmentally sustainable approach to natural interior products.

The three-year programme will involve research and development of natural and green chemistry-based alternatives to the few remaining synthetic components of woollen carpets.

In July last year, Cavalier announced it was ditching synthetics in favour of wool and other natural fibres, citing ‘‘negative impacts on people’s health and the planet’’.

The company yesterday unveiled a new transformational strategy, saying it would transition away from the manufacture and supply of synthetic fibre carpets over the next 12 months and existing synthetic stocks would be sold down.

Cavalier’s chief executive, Paul Alston said people did not realise how much plastic was going into homes or synthetic carpet was made from plastic.

‘‘Like many things, used carpet often ends up in landfill and a synthetic carpet put into landfill today will still be there many, many years later.

‘‘With the support of the SFFF funding grant, Bremworth is seeking to create better and greener ways to manufacture wool carpet and an end product that is healthier for the planet.

‘‘Over the next 10 years, our vision is to become a global leader in designing and creating desirable, sustainable, safe and high-performing interior products,’’ Mr Alston said.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said more than ever consumers were considering the entire life-cycle of products.

‘‘We believe this programme will spur demand for New Zealand strong wool and enhance our manufacturing competitiveness through strong environmental credentials that challenge industry norms.

‘‘This new project is a great example of an initiative that aims to create a step change in the wool products manufactured in Aotearoa and deliver on the Fit for a Better World vision,’’ Mr O’Connor said.

‘‘Ultimately we hope it will benefit New Zealand’s strong wool sector, with better returns for farmers and manufacturers, and supporting their communities,’’ he said.

Wool prices had trended up over the past couple of months but prices for coarse wool still had quite some way to go before the industry would once again be profitable, ANZ’s latest Agri-Focus report said.

While the cost of shearing still outweighed the price of coarse wool, there were encouraging signs overseas demand was stronger and there was a sign of a return in confidence to the markets, it said.


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