A WOOL company from a small island off the coast of South Australia is using the demand for traceability as their unique selling point in Asia.
The Kangaroo Island Wool Company is offering full traceability of their product, from sheep pasture to the end garment, to meet the demand from international manufacturers.
Dr Greg Johnsson, the secretary of the cooperative, said the company was formed in 2011 and is made up of 18 different farming businesses and his veterinary clinic.
“Traceable, high quality wool is an emerging requirement for clothing manufacturers in Asia,” Johnsson said. “This is being made available on the South Australian island.”
“The thing that makes our product unique is the fact that our sheep are run, managed and cared for in a very pristine environment. There is no other environment in Australia that is like Kangaroo Island.”
Kangaroo Island boasts large amounts of premium fibre from two types of sheep: the Australian Merino and the British Breed.
Australian Merinos are well known for their exceptionally fine wool that keeps moisture away from the skin and is the fibre of choice for many suit manufacturers.
“Because of our Mediterranean climate, there is a high level of feed that is provided from our pastures,” Johnnson said.
The group produces almost 700,000kg of wool a year, a proportion of which is sold to Japan where it is made into luxury men’s suits, school uniforms and woollen underlay blankets.
“Certainly we are getting more and more demand from Japan. Particularly the men’s suiting industry,” Johnsson said.
“We are looking for more buyers and we are working with people who have contacts in China, Vietnam and South Korea.
“The Japanese consumer is interested in the origin story. But now there is an emerging requirement in China for the origin stories of food and materials as well.”
John Dawes, an Associate Professor of Marketing Science at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute in South Australia, said that as Chinese consumers become wealthier, they also become more discerning and are more interested in prestige products.
“Many Chinese want to buy from quality sources, and Australia is seen as safe, green and authentic,” Assoc Prof Dawes said.
“Kangaroo Island Wool is one supplier with a great story to tell about the origin of its products, its animal care, and its quality credentials. The name perfectly captures the desirability of Australian product.
“Over time the company is developing a reputation among its clients and the word spreads, leading to more business from Chinese clothing businesses.”