28 September 2021 – According to some attendees at this month’s Wool Connect Conference, Australian wool growers are hitting an information wall when it comes to hearing about the increased calls from textile brands and their need for mulesed-free wool.
Global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS presented an open letter at the conference, featuring 35 major brands, including Adidas, H&M Group, Bestseller, VF Corporation, Mammut, Patagonia, and Otto Group, which have publicly signed the FOUR PAWS 'Brand Letter of Intent', stating they do not want mulesed wool, and they call on the Australian wool industry to enable the transition away from mulesing and towards pain-free alternatives.
The conference provided a unique opportunity for wool growers worldwide get the chance to engage directly with the global supply chain stakeholders to hear more about demand for mulesed-free wool, trends and innovation. The Schneider Group’s Wool Connect Conference had 439 participants, of which 40.8% were Australian, 34.1% were wool growers and 52.3% were from the textile industry.
Animal welfare was high on the agenda, with mulesing a key topic for all supply chain partners including wool growers.
Due to its extensive work building animal welfare in the textile industry, FOUR PAWS was invited to share its global progress discussing alternatives to mulesing with brands and their supply chains.
During discussions on mulesing at the conference, some participating Australian wool growers stated that they are not receiving the crucial feedback from brands and their demands for non-mulesed wool.
FOUR PAWS is surprised that the vocal demand from brands is not arriving in Australia and questions the reasons behind this information gap.
“Within 18 months, our Brands Against Mulesing list has soared from 100 brands in April 2020 to over 220 brands today. This surprised wool growers in attendance, who were not aware that global demand for mulesed-free wool was reaching such peaks."
Rebecca Picallo Gil, FOUR PAWS Wool Campaigner
“Now with the publication of the Brand Letter of Intent, it is clear that these 35 brands are just the beginning. These brands signed the Letter of Intent in just five months. Every day, FOUR PAWS are being contacted by wool suppliers and fellow brands who have heard about mulesing from their consumers and are concerned. While it may seem like just 35 brands for now, these 35 brands are also joining the 220 brands who have already said ‘no more’ to mulesed wool and appear on our Brands Against Mulesing list. These brands numbers continue to rise, so they should not be dismissed,” said Picallo Gil.
Heinz Zeller, the head of sustainability & logistics for the German luxury fashion house Hugo Boss, echoed this sentiment, telling conference attendees that mulesing-free wool should be considered entry level and a must have.
“If you go out and claim your product responsible, it’s not compatible with mulesing.”
Heinz Zeller, the head of sustainability & logistics for the German luxury fashion house Hugo Boss, speaking at Wool Connect Conference
FOUR PAWS working with major brands
FOUR PAWS is currently working with major brands including Calvin Klein and Puma to publish phase-out commitments based on full supply chain traceability and timelines, mostly until 2025, while the Brand Letter of Intent features 35 international brands who are addressing the Australian wool industry directly via an open letter, demanding a tangible plan to end mulesing by 2030.
Over 3,000 Australian wool growers are mulesing-free, and various wool assurance schemes can reliably exclude mulesed wool. Further, Australian Wool Innovation has announced plans to develop tools to increase wool growers’ confidence and ability to manage flystrike without mulesing by 2030.
“These developments give us confidence that industry stakeholders are more ready than ever to transition away from mulesing. What is needed now is that Australian wool industry stakeholders speak in a unified voice towards wool growers to provide them with a concrete plan and the tools to give them confidence that a transition is possible.”
Rebecca Picallo Gil, FOUR PAWS Wool Campaigner
Rebecca Picallo Gil is available for interviews to discuss her presentation.
FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them.
Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, animals in fashion, farm animals, and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones.
With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org.au