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HomeFarming News11 ‘innovative’ uses for wool to boost its value
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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11 ‘innovative’ uses for wool to boost its value

The recently published Wool Feasibility Report – which the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine commissioned – explores market opportunities for Irish-grown wool based products, potential funding streams, and areas for further research and development.

The DAFM appointed The Agile Executive, a consortium of experts from Munster Technological University and Donegal Yarns, to conduct the wool review.

Recently, the DAFM published the €100,000 report entitled: Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine; Review of Market Opportunities for Irish Grown Wool Based Products.

In this article, we summarise some key information in respect of some recommendations and markets.

Key markets researchers identified in the report:

The authors reported that there has been a market shift with “increasing” demand for wool from consumers over the last two years.

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They say this is evidenced by a marked increase in the sales of wool-based products from the insulation, textiles, and filled product sectors.

They divided the potential uses of wool into the following areas:

  • Insulation – Thermal construction and acoustic construction – use wool as an insulator in housing;
  • Filled products – Pet bedding, pillows, mattresses, duvets and furniture;
  • Composites – Furniture, concrete additives and automotive;
  • By-products: Lanolin, keratin and cosmetics;
  • Textiles – Carpets, home interiors, wearable and yarn;
  • Packaging: Protective packaging and cool chain packaging;
  • Horticulture: Growing media, fertiliser, compost, mulch mats, slug repellents, and hydroponics.

Suggested “innovative” uses for wool contained in the report:

  • Orthopaedic support casts;
  • Development of scouring facilities;
  • Sound absorbent and air purification panel;
  • Building insulation;
  • Extraction of vitamins from wool;
  • Filter material for face masks;
  • Mattress manufacturing;
  • Filled bedding products;
  • Keratin extraction from sheep’s wool;
  • Lanolin extraction;
  • Composites.

The authors recommended the following:

  • An All-Island “Irish Grown” Wool Council: An industry-led steering group including direct and indirect stakeholders to champion an Irish Grown Wool Brand Ensure;
  • Support the commercial scaling of micro-enterprises via collaboration and mentoring;
  • Marketing activities focusing on new product categories with a focus on higher value-added products such as mattresses and filled products such as duvets and pillows;
  • Awareness campaign run in schools like the Wool in School initiative, promoting awareness of Irish Grown Wool products and their green circular bio-economy-led credentials;
  • Wool Hub: Academic researchers and commercial entities may collaborate on research projects;
  • Independent wool testing facility – to set standards and substantiate all promotional claims made about Irish Grown Wool products;
  • Develop a system of traceability for wool sent abroad for scouring and further processing;
  • Wool Council sponsor “high impact, quick delivery projects and high impact” projects.
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