New code to fight wool contamination

30 May, 2001 10:00 PM
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AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation Limited is planning a major code of conduct for woolgrowers to rid the industry of physical contamination.

Under the new code, the Woolmark Brand would be used as the primary accreditation mark, identifying participating wool clips as free of contamination in the sale-room.

AWI managing director Col Dorber revealed the plan last week, after retuning from the International Wool Textile Organisation conference in China.

Mr Dorber and his fellow AWI board members met with representatives from "every wool buying country in the world" at the meeting, and came away determined to force contamination from the industry.

AWI plans to devote significant revenues towards developing the industry-wide code of conduct, which would be based on ISO 9000 accreditation.

The Woolmark-branded, farm accreditation scheme would be voluntary, and market-driven.

AWI is currently assessing a draft code that has been in private development for three-years, and is about to call for expressions of interest in developing the code into an ISO 9000 compliance code.

"Our first step will be to do a pilot study implementing the code in every wool producing region, to identify the cost and the benefit," Mr Dorber said.

"And in particular we will look at the methodology required to have an in-shed testing and production code that is truly independent, credible and can attract world wide recognition."

"My hope is that whenever anybody saw the Woolmark brand, they would know that from the very farm floor to the end of that processing chain there would be a truly rigorous accreditation program, that allowed the buyer to have absolute confidence and allowed a very clear, formal and quick process for remedying any disputes."

As the seventh-most recognised brand in the world, according to a recent Financial Times article, the Woolmark was the ideal symbol to base a wool-based farm accreditation scheme on, he said.

"It would seem to me as a layman coming in that you would simply not want to be inventing a whole new brand that would confuse the market place, when one of the world's best brands is out there and owned by woolgrowers already."

Mr Dorber was yet to discuss the issue with The Woolmark Company, which owns the brand, but was confident that the commercial advantages for woolgrowers would result in a positive outcome.

Woolgrowers may have to pay a license-fee similar to other Woolmark licensees to use the brand, but Mr Dorber believed this cost could be subsidised by levy funds.

"It may well be that growers will have to make a contribution, but that contribution can be significantly reduced if we can use levy funds, and the test for that will be if it demonstrates a significant return on the investment to the growers," Mr Dorber said.

"We only want growers to participate where they see a return, and have a long-term commitment to a sustainable industry."

"If the market embraced a truly independent Woolmark branded farm accreditation system, I think growers would see it as the best possible commercial move they could make.

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