Disruption is happening whether we like it or not, says Dave Maslen, NZ Merino general manager for markets and sustainability.
“Wool has often been the poor cousin of the agricultural sector in recent years, with a volatile global wool market, but innovation like the wool-based Firewire Woolight surfboard, invented by Kiwi surfer Paul Barron, launched in New Zealand today, will help change that,” says Pāmu chief executive Steve Carden.
“The partnership with surfboard manufacturer Firewire gives our sheep farmers a sense of pride and confidence that the future for wool doesn’t have to be the status quo, and value-add is as much alive in the wool sector as it is in dairy and meat. We need new markets and categories to realise the true value of ethically grown, sustainable New Zealand wool fibre, and we see the Woolightsurfboard as just the beginning.
“We hadn’t thought surfing would be something that would provide the channel to take a positive New Zealand wool story to the world but it makes sense that those that enjoy nature so closely would be those that can solve environmental and performance challenges,” says Carden.
“This partnership also supports Pāmu’s focus on innovation – from sheep and deer milk to wool surfboards, Pāmu is at the forefront of positive change in the agriculture sector by adding value to our raw products and the economy.”
Firewire chief executive Mark Price, who is in New Zealand visiting Pāmu farms, says Pāmu farmers are very much like surfers.
“Pamu’s farmers’ passion for the land is similar to the passion surfers have for the ocean.
“The way Pāmu cares for the land, their people and their animals gives us a connection back into the supply chain that is often lost in the other materials we use.
We know that Pāmu has a commitment to innovation in what they produce and how they produce it that mirrors our own,” Price said.
Carden said the state-owned farming and food company was constantly looking for ways to innovate across the agriculture sector.
“As New Zealand’s largest sheep farmer, we recognise our leadership role in developing the market for New Zealand wool. Working with partners like NZ Merino makes sense for us, as we can combine our excellence in sheep farming with their global reach, relationships and expertise.
“Supplying wool in partnership with NZ Merino to companies like Firewire for use in surfboards is an example of the exciting things we can bring to the business of farming.”
“It follows the successful partnership between NZ Merino and Pāmu in securing strong (coarse) wool supply to US company Havelock Wool for use in their premium insulation products, announced earlier this year.
“Whether it be working with NZ Merino on woollen surfboards, creating a new specialty milk market for sheep and deer milk, or trialling innovation on farms to reduce our environmental footprint, Pāmu works hard to be an innovation leader in the agricultural sector, recognising we have the scale and resources that some other farmers don’t have. Ultimately we want to create markets and customers for all New Zealand farmers because we all benefit from a vibrant agriculture sector,” Carden said.
The Firewire Woolight surfboard range will be available for sale in New Zealand around April/May 2019.