New uses for wool could improve producer returns.
Insulated packaging company Woolcool is taking about 10% of the UK wool clip, last year sourcing wool from about three million sheep.
The Staffordshire-based company was set up in 2008 and produces sheep-wool insulation packaging for a wide range of customers including home-delivery food suppliers Able & Cole, Riverford Organic and Hello Fresh.
It also produces pouches for Fortnum & Mason to protect chilled products in their world-famous hampers.
The wool is felted and sealed in breathable film, with sustainability, potential for recycling and the fact that it is biodegradable being attractions for customers.
Managing director Keith Spilsbury said the company was keen to work closer with the industry.
“Farmers don’t get a good deal at present and for some it costs more to shear than for what they get for the fleece.
“We are talking to the wool board and would like to see a more economically viable sector for upland producers.”
Tim Booth, British Wool Marketing Board marketing manager, said discussions were taking place with Woolcool over the use of the board’s logo, image bank and the type of wool required by the company.
“We have had a number of meetings with Woolcool who produce a very interesting product.
“Wool gives a huge benefit in this area of use,” he said.
Mr Booth said he hoped the increasing use of coarse wool for insulation would boost prices for farmers.
Among other unusual applications are Solid Wool – a wool and bioresin that is moulded into various uses, such as tables and chairs.
A Devon company, Twool, is also producing a wool twine for the gardening sector and have been shortlisted for product of the year at the Chelsea Flower Show. The firm also has a 100% British wool “Wool Bag”, which is being sold in Waitrose flagship stores.