19 Feb 2010

'Wool to food' research funding believed unlikely

1:04 pm on 19 February 2010

A wool industry representative thinks farmers would be interested in the concept of turning wool into food.

But he does not think they or commercial interests would be willing to put up any money to research it, at this stage.

Cliff Heath, chair of the Wool Equities investment company and the Wool Advancement Group, was commenting on ideas raised by AgResearch chief executive, Andrew West.

Dr West says new uses for wool don't have to be limited to textiles and fabrics and AgResearch and others have been considering the potential for using wool protein as food source.

Mr Heath says farmers would support any initiative that increased their returns, but he does not think they or wool technology interests would be prepared to pay for the initial research.

He says they've already been bitten by Keratec, which absorbed $20 - $25 million of farmers' money to develop health and cosmetic products from wool proteins.

Mr Heath says Wool Equities was knocked back in its initial approach to the Government's new Primary Growth Research Partnership for funding to support textile projects for adding value to wool, but it's continue to develop those initiatives.