Manawatū farmers Nick and Rosemarie Bertram are the 2020 New Zealand Share Farmers of the Year.
The annual awards celebrate the success of businesses on the world stage.
NZ Merino chief executive John Brakenridge says these awards go to their team and board, and the 500 high country farmers, strong wool farmers, Māori agribusinesses and Pamu farms who dare to be different.
“They are leaning into regenerative agriculture and embracing the notion of wellbeing, not just of people but also of the planet,” he said.
“We’d also like to acknowledge our innovative brand partners who are taking our special fibre to the world and the Te Hono network who continue to lead the way for agribusiness in New Zealand.”
The awards are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE).
The judges were impressed with how NZ Merino had worked to help shift the entire local Merino industry from volume to value, investing in a design-led approach over multiple years. Their helping many of their partner brands and suppliers to adopt design thinking approaches also impressed the judges.
The company aims to help transform Merino wool from a commodity into a high-value fibre, working with brands to create unique design-led and R&D-based products that incorporate Merino wool and in turn helping growers to get better returns.
Its partnerships include local and global brands Icebreaker, Allbirds, Mons Royale, Rodd & Gunn, Untouched World, Hugo Boss, Fjallraven and Helly Hansen.
As well as apparel, they have also teamed up for novel products such as US boardmaker Firewire’s Woolight composite surfboard.
The company also won the ‘Excellence in Design’ category, and achieved highly commended both in the ‘Excellence in Innovation’ and ‘Best Large Business’ categories.
NZ Merino was included in the awards process after winning a Westpac Champion Canterbury Award – one of six regional export award programmes that feed through to the New Zealand International Business Awards via a partnership with ExportNZ.
Thirty-nine of New Zealand’s top export companies and business leaders made it through to the final stage of the awards, a record number. This followed a nine-month application and judging process.
Now in their 52nd year, the New Zealand International Business Awards are run by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and supported by Strategic Partner and ANZ.