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Companies get behind new national standards for wool

A NEW National Standard for Wool has been established under the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme (NZFAP) with 15 new wool companies signing up to the programme.

The NZFAP provides assurances to customers and consumers about the integrity, traceability, biosecurity, food safety, environmental sustainability and animal health and welfare of New Zealand's primary sector products.

The fifteen wool companies are joining the 17 red meat processors, one other wool company, a sheep milk company, Beef + Lamb NZ and Deer Industry NZ already in the programme.

The collaboration enables the wool industry members to adopt the NZFAP as a New Zealand National Standard for wool.

There are currently around 8000 NZFAP-certified sheep, beef, and deer farmers, with about 6500 farming sheep.

Membership of the NZFAP means that all wool companies that sign up will immediately have access to farm-assured wool from these 6500 properties.

For farmers there is no change as the wool standards are already included in the NZFAP audits.

New Zealand Farm Assurance Incorporated (NZFAI), which owns the NZFAP, and the National Council of New Zealand Wool Interests (NCNZWI), have signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which has paved the way for membership.

Nick Beeby, chairman of NZFAI, said extending the NZFAP certification to wool companies galvanises the primary industry collaborative power into a single and robust New Zealand assurance story.

“We are all telling the same origin and assurance story, which the wool exporters can now share with their discerning manufacturers and retail brand owners.

“This initiative creates a single multi-sector assurance standard, eliminates duplication and further reduces cost, which have been NZFAI priorities from the beginning.

“The adoption of the NZFAP as a national standard for wool will also help to drive consistency in grower standards and provide a platform for the standardisation of New Zealand wool, which can command a price premium for the benefit of growers and accredited companies in the value chain,” Mr Beeby said.

“This development aligns with the New Zealand wool industry's goals of seeking new and improved ways to meet their customers' changing demands and generating long-term sustainable returns for all New Zealand wool types, both domestically and internationally.

“It represents an opportunity for greater penetration and recognition internationally, not only for our red meat sector but also for the New Zealand wool industry.”

Craig Smith, chairman of the NCNZWI, said it was a great opportunity for the wool industry to leverage off this foundation and establish a complementary National Standard for Wool.

The development of a unified New Zealand wool assurance standard will support increased differentiation and demand for New Zealand wool in the global marketplace.

“This provides the value-chain assurances we need around land management, origin, traceability, animal health and welfare and gives us the ability to work with the red meat sector to make this happen. We have 15 of the largest wool companies across key points in the supply chain signed up to the programme with the expectation that more will follow,” Mr Smith said.

“The wool sector has been under-performing in what has been a challenging consumer market, but this move creates a unique and compelling value proposition for New Zealand wool by leveraging on the provenance and world-leading practices that occur here.

“It is great to have the 15 significant wool companies support this important initiative and we look forward to others joining us as we step forward.

“We would also like to acknowledge the NZFAI's determination and effort to make this happen and for the initial funding contribution made by Strong Wool Action Group Ltd (SWAG) and the Ministry for Primary Industries' Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund (MPI SFFF) that covers the establishment of the NZFAP programme for wool and the first year of farm audits.”

Rob Hewett, chairman of Strong Wool Action Group, said the new quality assurance programme for wool was great news for the sector.

“The SWAG is focused on helping to lift the New Zealand strong wool sector out of a prolonged period of low prices. We have a simple agenda — support collaboration that is consumer-focused to create demand and add value.

“Additionally, most sheep farmers are familiar with the quality assurance programme for meat that has been running for many years,” Mr Hewett said.

“Our customers offshore are continually looking for ways to verify the quality, sustainability and ethical production systems of the products they purchase — this is a big step forward to allow them to do that.”

The NZFAP is a national farm assurance programme originally developed under the Red Meat Profit Partnership (RMPP), a joint Primary Growth Partnership initiative between the New Zealand red meat sector and the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries. Today, it is owned and managed by NZFAI.

The 15 wool companies joining the programme are — CP Wool, Curtis Wool Direct (NZ) Ltd, Devold Wool Direct NZ Ltd, East Coast Wools Ltd, G. Modiano (NZ) Ltd, G. Schneider NZ LTD, John Marshall & Co Ltd, Kells Wool Ltd, Mainland Wool Ltd, NZ Wool Services International Ltd/J S Brooksbank, PGG Wrightson/Bloch and Behrens, Philippa Wright T/A Wright Wool, Segard Masurel (NZ) Ltd, WoolWorks NZ Ltd and Yaldhurst Wools Ltd.

INITIATIVE: Fifteen companies have signed up to a new national wool standards programme. File picture