We generate opportunities for new ingredients to be developed made from New Zealand wool.
We are a specialist funder of wool research, development, and information transfer for the New Zealand wool industry.
What WRONZ does
and why we do it
The wool sector has long been an iconic part of New Zealand’s rural identity, supporting vibrant rural communities over many farming generations. It remains an important part of New Zealand’s regional economy.
The strong wool sector has faced increasing competition from synthetic fibres since the 1960s, and especially in the last 20 years. The majority of sheep farmed in New Zealand produce coarse diameter fibre that is mainly used in floorcoverings — broadloom carpets and rugs. The increasing use of synthetic fibres in these products has reduced the demand and price of strong wool.
Although New Zealand is a major player in the strong wool sector, and the largest exporter of strong wool in the world, the sector has been in decline over recent decades, a trend heightened by the disruption to global trade caused by Covid-19.
Prices for strong wool are at their lowest point, driving a significant decline in sheep numbers and the amount of wool produced – from 58 million sheep producing 305,000 tonnes of wool in 1990, to 27 million sheep producing 140,000 tonnes of wool in 2020.
Our funding emphasis is on applied research and development leading to commercial outcomes in order to increase demand and the price farmers get for their wool. WRONZ also maintains a research focus on enabling science for wool fibre research that improves knowledge about its properties, sustaining a knowledge platform for development of new processes and products.
WRONZ exists to fund scientific or industrial research that relate to post harvest Wool Industry, for the benefit of the New Zealand Wool Industry, with its membership spanning the wool chain from resident growers, wool processors, brokers, exporters and science providers.
We cannot do our work alone. We work alongside a range of partners to maximise our impact and realise mutual benefits for WRONZ, our partners, wool growers, and New Zealand.
We acknowledge our partners who have supported WRONZ and our New Uses Programme. With your commitment together we are creating new and innovative uses for New Zealand strong wool. We thank you for your continued support.
Key Milestones /
What we are working on
Our research is world class, and we are now advancing the development of new particles, powders, pigments, fibres, cells, and filler, and have commenced work to build a pilot facility to support market testing and scale up of leading technology.
Key goals for 2021
- Building a pilot plant facility
- Establishing sample production of the first products
- Market engagement and product refinement through channel partner learnings
We are establishing a pilot facility that will focus on deconstructed particles, powders, and pigments, and then expand into additional areas. Results from the pilot facility will prove:
- scalability of process
- the unit cost of production at scale
- product refinement through market engagement and sample production
- price point and margin
Once the pilot plant has proven to be successful, our focus will be to develop an entirely new strong wool manufacturing sector in New Zealand.
WRONZ will also explore the transfer of products via licencing agreements to New Zealand based entities, to achieve its goals.
Our aim is for the new uses programme to provide markets for 20mill +kgs of wool, to demonstrate the viability, and increase the ‘at farm gate’ price of strong wool for farmers.
Board of Directors
Andy Fox —
Andy was elected Chair of the WRONZ board in 2018. Married to Kath (a lawyer in Christchurch) they farm Foxdown, a 1600ha sheep and beef property in Scargill, North Canterbury. An ex Nuffield scholar, he holds various commercial interests in property and business in Canterbury. Andy was on the board of PPCS for 10 years and also spent 10 years on the board of Meat and Wool New Zealand (now Beef and Lamb NZ). As Chair of WRONZ is his passionate about reversing the decline in price of wool for growers.
Donald Fraser —
Don was elected to the WRONZ board by the NZ members in 2009 and has a lifetime in the wool processing industry. He’s been Manager & Director of both NuYarm and Summit Wool Spinners and has led market development in Australia, Asia, Japan and the USA. Don has been responsible for large scale production sites for over 25 years and has extensive knowledge of the entire wool production system. Retired from executive roles he has done some consulting in Europe and is committed to his WRONZ governance role.
Tony Cummingham — Board Member
Tony was appointed to the WRONZ board in 2011, currently Chief Operating Officer of Woolworks (NZ’s wool scouring business) Tony has extensive wool sector knowledge. His experience dates back to 1985 and he has held roles in most areas of the trade including testing, exporting, wool procurement and latterly scouring. Tony resides in the Hawkes Bay and holds qualifications from Massey University, Lincoln University and Macquarie Graduate School of Management.
Dr Caroline Saunders — Board Member
Dr Caroline Saunders was appointed to the WRONZ board in 2020, she is a Professor of Trade and Environmental Economics and Director of the Agribusiness and Economics Research Unit (AERU) at Lincoln University. Her research includes increasing the value of agricultural exports for a wide range of private and public bodies both in NZ and overseas. She is on the Board of Landcare Research and a member of the Reserve Bank Monetary Policy Committee. She received the NZIER Economics Award in 2007, the NZOM in 2009 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of NZ (RSNZ)
Kate Acland —
Kate was appointed to the WRONZ board by the Meat and Wool Trust in 2019. In conjunction with husband David they farm Mt Somers Station in Mid Canterbury, running beef, venison, dairy and lamb/wool operations. Kate is a winemaker by training and runs her own specialist wool blanket making business. In addition to her WRONZ governance role Kate is also a director of Beef and Lamb NZ and the Ashburton Trading Society.
Andrew Morrison — Board Member
Andrew was appointed to the WRONZ board by the Meat and Wool trust in 2016. Along with his wife Lisa, he Sheep and Beef farms a total of 1030 hectares spread between Southland and Otago. Andrew is Chair of Beef and Lamb NZ and New Zealand Meat Board and has been on these boards since 2014. He also currently sits on the Board of Ballance Agri Nutrients (since 2011). Andrew’s key driver is to see the creation and delivery of new value added products in NZ using our traditional agricultural inputs and maximising the return locally.