Massey University is examining the economic impact and the production consequences of crossbreeding with Wiltshire sheep to a fully shedding flock.
Chairman Rob Hewett says the group includes four red meat processors, existing companies in the wool sector, markers and innovation experts and marketing companies.
Funding will come from the four meat companies and Ministry of Primary Industries.
Hewett told Rural News the group would lead change in the sector by bringing a broad range of skills and consumer focus to the challenges facing strong wool.
“Success of strong wool underpins the sheep meat sector and we have a vested interest in the sector’s success.”
Hewett, also chairman of Silver Fern Farms, claims the red meat sector players saw this as an opportunity to help galvanize the strong wool sector.
“We want to provide stimulus to the value of the 5th quarter, which includes wool, and non-meat products such as pelts, pharmaceuticals, and casings. We want to support sheep farmers who need to see a lift in the profitability of their wool to ensure the ongoing viability of hill country farming in New Zealand.”
Crossbred wool prices have slumped 40% since the 1990s. Latest auction results showed an all-time market low, prices sitting at around $1.90-$2.10/ kg for full length.
The Strong Wool Action Group will work on three key areas identified in the Wool Industry Project Action Group report over the coming months to develop a plan of action for the sector.
“We will re-establish some important industry good capability, bring in international consumer-focused thinking from outside the sector, and identify a basket of opportunities for investment that will create value – all recommendations from the report,” Hewett says.
“Since the loss of the wool levy, we have not had the structures or rigor around improving capability within the sector. This includes data capture and analysis so we can move beyond anecdotal evidence and identify sound opportunities for investment.”
Hewett says the group has strong support of the Agriculture Minister, Damien O’Connor.
“I’m pleased the sector has stepped up to this challenge,” O’Connor says.
MPI is organising a workshop for the wool sector to agree a plan and actions. O’Connor says the workshop was delayed due to the re-emergence of COVID-19 but will be rescheduled as soon as practical.