A partnership, announced this week, between innovative wool companies Australian Wool Network (AWN) and New Zealand Merino Company (NZM), will see greater global access to ethically sourced, sustainable merino fibre.

The deal will see AWN supply NZM’s ‘ZQ Merino’ programme, the world’s largest ethical wool brand. NZM CEO John Brakenridge explained that a partnership with AWN was a natural fit for both companies.

“AWN focus on developing long-term relationships with growers who want to innovate and progress their industry and they have been providing a provenance pipeline with their Direct Network Advantage (DNA) programme for some years now - both of these strategies align well to our approach at New Zealand Merino,” Brakenridge said.

“The partnership will help AWN support our woolgrowers who are striving for even greater value from their on farm efforts to produce premium, sustainable and ethically raised merino fibre to meet a growing global demand,” said AWN MD John Colley.

The ZQ Merino accreditation programme requires woolgrowers to adhere to strict standards regarding animal welfare, environmental integrity and social responsibility. The programme is audited by 3rd party auditors to confirm compliance.*

 “There is no doubt that production of wool produced according to these new standards regarding animal welfare (including no mulesing), environmental integrity and social responsibility is a sign of the future, says Colley. We already see a demand for it and many of our woolgrowers recognise this too. The market pendulum is swinging this way and it’s now the right time to encourage more of our clients to consider their options, not just because of the ethical principles but it’s also a proven example of how to add-value to fibre for the future.”

To supply NZM’s ZQ Merino programme, AWN’s growers will need to undertake independent, third-party audits that provide assurance to end users that the fibre has been produced according to environmental, social and animal welfare standards.

History shows that the fibre market is unpredictable and subject to unexpected fluctuation. AWN’s partnership with NZM will give participating woolgrowers access to multi-year supply contracts that will create stability and protect them from volatile markets.

“We’re looking forward to creating a new supply chain with new wool specification requirements that will directly benefit AWN woolgrowers through our partnership with NZM,” Colley said.

In New Zealand, demand for high quality, ethically sourced merino fibre has outstripped supply.

“We simply can’t produce enough of certain wool types in New Zealand to meet market demand. While we are working hard to find ways to increase our own capacity for supply, a trans-Tasman partnership with AWN will give us access to premium quality fibre, grown to the highest standards, to help us meet the shortfall,” Brakenridge concluded.

Click here to find out more about ZQ Merino.


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