MERINOS SOAR ON ISLAND STORY
THE provenance story of Tasmanian wool is driving strong and growing interest.
About three years ago the state’s biggest wool agent Roberts ramped up its branding by revitalising its Tasmanian Merino project, driven by wool manager Alistair Calvert.
Roberts has owned the Tasmanian Merino brand for two decades and registered it in key markets.
Wool buyers say a desire to make informed purchasing choices is a boon for the state.
Steve Bryce, from Melbourne wool-buying company Bale Out, said the program helped create a direct link between growers and clients.
He said there was growing competition at auction and the Tasmanian Merino program made it easier to fill orders.
“It’s promoting Tasmanian wool and, for example, when we require a certificate of origin it’s done quickly for our client. It has made the whole process easier. I am getting repeat business.”
Australian Merino Exports’ James Thomson, also in Melbourne, said his firm had a long association with Tasmanian wool and there was good interest in the program.
“Tasmania has a strong natural brand and we are trying to position into fully traceable supply chains.”
Mr Calvert said the growing interest in “place of origin” aligned with a broader desire among consumers to know more about where things were grown and made.
“This creates the imperative for traceability,” he said. “This has created further interest in Tasmanian wool, especially in the past 12 months as we engage with a number of the world’s best-known brands.
“It’s taken us a couple of years to get to this position, but we are now being overwhelmed by the interest.”
Mr Calvert said the outlook was good for the state’s entire clip as customers ranging from ultrafine to 30-plus micron wanted Tasmanian wool.
He said the interest also had boosted auction prices.
He said the state had long been associated with producing high-quality wool but that only carried so far.
“It’s the untold stories of our farmers along with the intrigue of our island state that can really add value,” he said.
Tasmanian producers supply German company Ortovox, which makes premium outdoor wear. Mr Calvert said other users of Tasmanian wool included outdoor brands, Italian suiting manufacturers for brands such as Armani, Yves Saint Laurent and Hugo Boss and high-end knitting-yarn makers. He singled out Australian retailer Country Road for lifting the state’s profile.
“They have all recognised an opportunity that with the right help Tasmania can give them a marketing advantage.”
Sam Nicolson produces 150 bales of superfine Merino wool averaging 16.8 micron a year at his Bonneys Plains farm at the base of Ben Lomond.
“It’s a positive experience and great to have the branding of Tasmanian wool because it’s good for the future of the industry. It’s nice to have forward contracts and know you will get a good price,” he said.
The family also stopped mulesing 10 years ago and was now reaping the rewards.