The textile industry has been told that wool needs to recapture the marketing ground lost to synthetics if it's to regain its former place as the leading carpet fibre.
Wool Partners International chair Theresa Gattung told a textile industry conference in Wellington that despite the decline in sheep numbers, New Zealand still produces 30% of the strong wool used in carpets and it still has the reputation for producing the best wool.
But, she says, synthetic competitors have out-marketed wool.
"Nylon got going because it was cheaper," Ms Gattung told delegates, "but now it's the same price and is marketed instead as superior."
She said she had seen a billboard for nylon carpet in Atlanta, Georgia, that showed a baby with a lamb.
"They are appropriating our imagery as well," she said.
Ms Gattung says that the synthetics industry also dominates international standards for carpet manufacture and that the wool industry has to redress that imbalance as well.