29 Jan 2010

NZ wool growers get royal backing

1:36 pm on 29 January 2010

New Zealand wool growers have an unexpected new advocate in the form of Prince Charles, who has launched a project aimed at increasing demand for British, Australian and New Zealand fleece.

The prince has teamed up with growers and UK retail giant Marks and Spencer to make wool fashionable again.

During the launch earlier this week Prince Charles said the fibre's future was looking bleak despite its desirable qualities of sustainability, heat retention and fire retardant and insulating properties.

He's encouraging people to think about buying natural wool over its man-made alternatives.

Wool Partners International chief executive Ian Abercrombie says having someone of such profile promoting wool is tremendous for the industry - though he says generic marketing has not worked in the past.

Mr Abercrombie says a better option is targeted marketing at the point of sale and using brand integrity to sell the product.

Council of Wool Interests secretary Nick Nicholson agrees that generic marketing has not had a favourable outcome, but this one has the advantage of taking a collective approach with other nations.

The Wool Project is planning a "wool week" in Britain in September, showcasing the fibre in major department stores as a natural, sustainable and biodegradable product.