AWN clients are taking advantage of a partnership between AWN and New Zealand Merino (NZM) which offers the ZQ and ZQRX programs, providing certification and marketing opportunities not found elsewhere.
ZQRX is a regenerative agriculture index helping farmers work with nature to continuously improve human, animal, and environmental outcomes. ZQ is the world’s leading ethical wool standard – setting the highest standards for fiber quality and animal welfare as well as environmental and social responsibility since 2006.
When growers come on board with ZQRX, they are audited simultaneously for ZQ and Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) through a combined audit checklist, giving a whole clip approach. Through ZQ, growers gain forward contract opportunities, and with the RWS certification included, all other wool can be sold at auction or via offer basis. This gives growers every marketing opportunity available to them with the world’s two most wanted wool standards.
NZM’s General Manager of Supply and Relationships Australia, Matt Hand, said ZQ is consistently working with brands to identify the evolving demands of global consumers.
“There are some really innovative product developments going on and, combined with robust marketing strategies, our objective is to create and sustain demand for ZQ certified wool,” he said.
“Over a long period of time, direct brand partner contracts have consistently outperformed the commodity market, historically used in Australia. It’s an excellent long-term benefit to our growers, and it delivers comfort around supply for our brand partners.”
“ZQRX has enormous potential for growth within Australia, not only for existing non-mulesed woolgrowers, but it also provides a tangible incentive for other growers to cease mulesing and join our growing community enjoying the benefits of ZQRX.” – Matt Hand, NZM’s General Manager of Global Supply
With more than 120 brands sourcing their wool requirements for ZQ, 20 brands have now committed to the ZQRX platform, beginning with the foundational partners Allbirds, icebreaker, and Smartwool and now including names such as Maggie Marilyn, Helly Hansen, and John Smedley. Several world-class supply chain partners have committed to the platform, including the Italian-based luxury and sustainability-focused Reda, a long-term partner of NZM that provides access to ZQRX fibers at the yarn or fabric level.
Matt said a growing number of Australian suppliers who had joined the program under the initial ZQ accreditation had transitioned to ZQRX.
“The response has been fantastic, and like-minded woolgrowers are very receptive to everything ZQRX offers. Arguably this is the first opportunity Australian woolgrowers have had to join a program such as this with true brand partner connections,” he said.
Based in Geelong in Victoria, Matt’s appointment in January this year came as a direct result of growing demand from NZM’s brand partners for greater volumes of wool.
“My role is to assist in the expansion of the program and, along the way, support the AWN team and assist Australian growers to achieve a great value outcome,” he said.
“ZQRX has enormous potential for growth within Australia, not only for existing non-mulesed woolgrowers, but it also provides a tangible incentive for other growers to cease mulesing and join our growing community enjoying the benefits of ZQRX.”
Anyone seeking more information about ZQ or ZQRX should contact their AWN wool specialist.