7 Feb 2013

Sheep farmers want wool to be carpet of choice in rebuild

7:48 pm on 7 February 2013

Sheep farmers are crossing their fingers that wool will be the carpet of choice in the Christchurch rebuild and give the industry a much needed boost.

Federated Farmers says figures it received from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority show that 2 million square metres of floor coverings are needed for the rebuild.

The federation's meat and fibre chairperson, Jeanette Maxwell, is hoping the Ministry for Primary Industries will work within the Government to see the wool industry get a decent slice of that 2 million square metres.

She says it's a natural, renewable sustainable product which also helps keeps jobs in New Zealand.

Recent lay-offs in the wool processing sector, including 192 redundancies at the Summit Wool Spinners in Oamaru, have been blamed on weak domestic and international demand for wool due to the popularity of synthetic carpets.

Ms Maxwell says the industry really struggles to sell the virtues of its carpet in the face of marketing from its synthetic competitors.

She says on the global market natural fibres represent 2%, so there are massive multinationals behind manmade fibres.

"And so with that comes the megadollars and so they have the ability to put their product in the market place and also spend an awful lot of money on marketing."

Ms Maxwell says that means the wool industry has to be very effective about how it puts its message out there because it's very difficult to take on multinational companies.