23 Jan 2018

Industry has huge potential, cashmere producer says

3:37 pm on 23 January 2018

The country's leading cashmere wool-fibre farmer wants to breathe new life into what he describes as a stagnant industry with huge potential.

Cashmere.

Cashmere. Photo: goldnetz/123RF

David Shaw, who farms in Central Otago with his wife Robyn, said the cashmere industry in New Zealand was still cottage-style producing hundreds of kilogrammes of wool.

That was a far cry from the need to produce somewhere between five and 10 tonnes to be able to satisfy the local market and start competing internationally.

The international market price for mid-range cashmere fibre is about US$100 a kilogramme.

Mr Shaw nearly left the industry three years ago, but decided to stay, even though others left, because he knew the industry in New Zealand could be revitalised.

"We have committed a lot of energy and time and a lot of tenacity to hang in there and we have got to the stage now that we want to share that with other farmers."

His company New Zealand Cashmere is producing fibre as fine as 12-microns, which is considered of equal quality to the best in the world.

Cashmere wool-fibre is used in high-end upmarket garments.

Mr Shaw said the problem for the New Zealand industry is to be able to get enough volume.

He is looking for other producers.

"It's a five to 10-year plan but there is a huge opportunity out there."

Mr Shaw said goats were not for everyone.

"They have unique personalities and that's why we enjoy them."

The two leading producers of cashmere, China and Mongolia, are facing challenges brought about by overstocking, climate change and a drop in quality.

He said they were excited about what they saw as the renaissance of a dormant New Zealand cashmere industry.