19 Jul 2011

Fed Farmers says wool industry needs unity

3:43 pm on 19 July 2011

Federated Farmers says the entry of a new competitor into New Zealand's wool market has come at a time when the industry is seeking more unity among its existing players.

Canadian-based global agri-business Viterra is tp expand its wool arm into New Zealand and has employed two local wool traders, from Rokelay Wool and Marquet.

Viterra has been handling grain in New Zealand since 2009 when it merged with ABB Grain Ltd. It also claims to be the largest buyer of wool in Australia's domestic market and intends to become a large buyer here, as well.

Federated Farmers meat and fibre chair, Jeanette Maxwell, says increased competition within New Zealand doesn't always benefit farmers because it doesn't change what happens in the international marketplace.

She says it will be interesting to see where Viterra will fit into an industry that is trying to work more closely together, and could be a threat to that depending on who the firm teams up with, and its attitude to the market.

The chairman of the farmer owned Wool Equities investment company, Cliff Heath, the issue is whether the firm is coming to New Zealand with new customers or whether it aims to take customers from existing exporters.

The former would be good for the industry as it would lead to more competition for New Zealand wool, he says, but prices would be driven down if Viterra was fighting against other exporters for customers.