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NZ Natural Fibres Update

February 11, 2021

You may recognise the name NZ Yarn, the subsidiary of CP Wool that Primary Wool Co-operative fought for, alongside others, to keep wool carpet yarn manufacturing alive and spinning in New Zealand. 

You may also remember this innovative company joined forces with Hemp NZ. The two have officially combined to create a new natural fibres and materials business: New Zealand Natural Fibres (NZNF).

CP Wool now owns 67% of the ordinary shares in the company and Hemp NZ owns the balance of 33% of the ordinary shares, along with 47 founding Redeemable Preference Shareholders.

Let’s take a look back at 2020 and see where they are going in 2021.

Impact of COVID-19 on NZ Yarn (now NZ Natural Fibres) 

Immediately following the New Zealand COVID shut down in March 2020 NZ Yarn (NZNF), along with the rest of the world, felt unsure about future demand and the impact on sales and business performance.

Fortunately, target markets and product categories were relatively unaffected by global COVID disruptions.

In fact, private aviation (a key market for NZ wool carpet in the USA) experienced a lift in activity with hundreds of additional business flights a day whilst commercial airlines and large corporate fleets like Walmart and Coca-Cola were grounded due to COVID restrictions and maintenance. These customers require more NZ wool carpet for their planes and the scale is impressive in terms of wool sold. 

In another example, the Melbourne COVID lockdown (9 July to 28 September 2020) meant Australian carpet manufacturing customers were unable to operate for 12 weeks. This effectively halved NZ Yarn’s (NZNF’s) order bank. On a positive note, this created pent up demand. Since the Melbourne manufacturing companies became operational again, NZ Yarn (NZNF) has received a flurry of orders as backorders are fulfilled and inventory levels replenished.

Colin McKenzie, NZNF CEO says, “Our order bank is now the strongest ever at around 180 MT (with just under 3 months work ahead of us), also encouragingly the Average Selling Price (ASP) has improved as we focus on differentiated and higher value yarn systems.”

New Innovation Adding Value to NZ Wool 

In other exciting news, the company is in the process of installing a leading edge natural fibre processing facility which it has imported from Europe. You can learn more about the plant, their collaboration with wool, innovative products, and watch their progress along the way here: NZYF Updates

This highly advanced equipment, the first of its kind in NZ, will enable NZNF to begin what is thought to be the first-ever commercial processing of hemp into fibre in the Southern Hemisphere.

The new processing facility will operate alongside NZ Yarn’s existing yarn spinning equipment, which spins strong NZ wool into yarn for the carpet industry worldwide.

McKenzie says NZNF’s investment in new equipment means the company has a strong, and difficult to replicate, platform from which to develop market-leading innovations in hemp fibre processing, as well as the development of new consumer products made from wool yarn, wool and hemp hybrid yarns and non-woven wool and hemp products.

Investing in innovative exciting developments in order to create additional demand for your wool is a primary reason why Primary Wool Co-Operative exists. We’re excited about where this company is going and what they’re doing for wool. 

“This is a pivotal and historic moment for the company, marking our expansion into hemp fibre production and wool and hemp hybrid materials. The new plant installation is well advanced and will be operating by February 2021.

Craig Carr, Chairman of NZNF, says the new company is aiming to be a pioneer in the global natural fibres revolution.

“We have a clear purpose to transform natural fibres to enable earth-positive choices. Products will be made from renewable, New Zealand-grown hemp and wool, as well as blends of the two fibres, using proprietary technology to prototype, produce and market a wide range of consumer and industrial options.”

Primary Wool Co-Operative is proud to be a part of this important story and will continue to support New Zealand Natural Fibres along the way. 

Want to know more about New Zealand Natural Fibres? You can watch a Farmers Weekly interview with Craig Carr here or check out www.nznaturalfibres.co.nz.