22 Feb 2011

Still conflict over future of wool marketing

8:42 pm on 22 February 2011

Supporters and opponents of a proposed wool co-operative agree on the need for the industry to work together to restore the fortunes of 'strong', or carpet, wool, but have conflicting ideas about how to go about it.

The proposed Wool Partners Co-operative was last week unable to attract the financial and wool supply commitment it needed from sheep farmers to make it run.

The farmer group behind the failed proposal says it'll look at other options for an integrated wool-marketing structure that increases the value through brands.

A supporter of the co-operative, Bruce Wills, says the wool unity group set up by the Minister of Agriculture last year is the obvious vehicle to drive a wool-marketing strategy.

Mr Wills says the industry is still set up for the days when there were 70 million sheep - with only about 32 million now, it needs to be aligned to modern-day practices.

Generic promotion campaign preferred

But exporters, brokers and merchants who campaigned against the co-operative don't support the brand approach and are throwing their weight behind an international generic promotion campaign.

Exporters Council president John Dawson says they don't necessarily see the wool unity group as the group to drive the marketing and would prefer the New Zealand Council of Wool Interests to act for the industry.