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Woolly times: Wools of New Zealand chairman Mark Shadbolt, left, and director Phil Guscott at the wool meeting in Heriot last week.
Photo: DIANE BISHOP 627366847
Bid to strengthen wool industry
Farmers encouraged to buy shares
By DIANE BISHOP
Growers of strong wools are being
asked to invest $5 million to boost
their ailing industry or accept the
current low wool prices.
Wools of New Zealand chairman
Mark Shadbolt wants wool-
growers to subscribe to shares in
Wools of New Zealand, which will
cost the average farmer producing
10,000 kilograms of wool about
$5000 a year.
This would enable the company to
become a leading innovator and
marketer of strong wools,
increase the presence of its
Laneve and Glacial brands, and
lift grower returns, he said.
Mr Shadbolt said that at $3 per
kilogram, greasy wool prices were
at an all-time low. A major
investment was needed to turn the
In the late 1980s wool was about $6
per kg and comprised about 70 per
cent of a sheep farmer's income,
but that had now dropped to
between 10 to 15 per cent, he told
woolgrowers at a meeting in
Heriot, West Otago, last Tuesday.
''We need $6/kg as a starting
point, '' he said.
Mr Shadbolt, who farms at Banks
Peninsula and was closely
involved with Banks Peninsula
Woolgrowers, cautioned farmers
against doing nothing.
''If we do nothing we'll continue to
get what we've got.
''And I'm not comfortable with
$3/kg, '' he said.
Mr Shadbolt said the difference
between $3 and $6
per kilogram for wool was about
$60,000 to his farming operation.
The Heriot meeting, which was
also attended by Wools of New
Zealand director Phil Guscott,
was one of 46 roadshows being
held around the country.
Mr Shadbolt said wool was being
treated as a commodity but it had
to be linked with the end
consumer. ''At the moment we're
pushing wool out the front gate
and hoping someone buys it.''
He believed there was an oppor-
tunity to grow the demand for
wool in the lucrative flooring
market which used only 2 per cent
of the world's wool, of which 0.6
per cent was from New Zealand.
Mr Shadbolt said there were huge
growth opportunities for wool in
China, particularly among the
wealthy middle class who would
pay for quality.
Although the strong wool price
lifted to about $7/kg two years
ago, it was now back where it was
at the start of the season.
Surprisingly, the steady drop in
sheep numbers, as dairying took
hold, had no effect on the wool
As a consequence few young
farmers placed importance on
''A lot of the young guys in the
industry don't value wool because
they have not seen it at a high,''
Mr Shadbolt said.
There were few other land use
options except for sheep and beef
where he farmed on Banks
''If we want to stay farming we
have to be profitable.''
Mr Shadbolt said growers who
signed up to the Wools of New
Zealand initiative would pay 15
cents/kg for every kilogram of
wool and this would increase to 20
cents/kg if the wool price lifted to
$4.50/kg for three consecutive
The Wools of New Zealand offer
closes at 5pm on Friday, Decem-
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