Wool fights back in global campaign to combat synthetics
One of Europe's leading carpet makers is preparing to launch a campaign promoting the virtues of New Zealand wool.
Dutch company Best Wool Carpets wants to fight back against the dominance of synthetic products which dominate the global carpet market with a whopping 96 per cent share.
It aims to counter some of the falsehoods propagated by the synthetic industry, such as that wool carpet fades in UV light.
In New Zealand for talks with companies such as NZ Merino (NZM), Best Wool Carpets chief executive Yvar Monasch said the industry needed to sell the natural story of wool better.
"One of the things we find when we start talking about the benefits of wool is that it is hard to stop. Resilience, sustainability, comfort, you can go on."
Wool was more expensive than synthetics but people were prepared to pay.
"If you want to have a beautiful product you have to pay for it so but we don't cater for the low end of the market. Wool lasts longer, carpets stay good looking for a long time, maybe 10 years, but a synthetic one loses its beauty after two or three years," Monasch said.
Best Wool Carpets has a 25 per cent market share of the fine wool carpet business in Europe, making what he describes as very fashionable, textured-style products.
Most of the strong, crossbred wool it uses comes from New Zealand, and the largest percentage from farmers contracted with NZM.
Best Wool recently offered growers a two-year forward contract. At present there are 260 tonnes of New Zealand crossbred wool in the company's forward contracts - about 2000 bales.
NZ Merino marketing development manager Hadleigh Smith said his company was partnering with companies in Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States.
"What we are developing with Yvar is a campaign to create wool as hero, to differentiate it from the synthetics, we're also able to leverage that story across all the range of products made from wool, including clothing."
Monasch said Best Wool was able to explain to its customers exactly what farms the wool came from because it had introduced traceability some time ago.
One area where the synthetic industry has been strong is in the training it gives staff to sell their products, and their use of former TV presenters to push them.
Best Wool is combating this by lifting the knowledge of its carpet sales staff about the benefits of wool. NZM has developed and launched the Best Wool Academy, an online tool to train staff as well as the Best Wool App that NZM designed to help customs better understand and choose wool carpet.
Asked if campaigns by animal rights activists against the use of wool were a threat, Monasch said their chief target was against raising sheep for meat.
"I'm not scared, because we know what farmers are up and what they subscribe to."
Smith hailed the deal with Best Wool Carpets as an early success story of the W3: Wool Unleashed private growth partnership between NZM and the Ministry for Primary Industries, which aims to deliver premiums for New Zealand's strong wool sector.
The programme started in 2016, with a projected spend of $23 million over its seven-year length, half provided by NZM, the other half by the taxpayer.
Monasch said the pro-wool campaign would be launched at the biggest flooring show in Germany in January.