Woolstar's sheep to shelf story

18 September 2014

With a strong focus on Asian markets, Australian-owned and operated bedding manufacturer Wool Products Australia which trades as Woolstar has enjoyed strong growth in recent times, particularly in China.

Poll Dorset sheep at ‘Springwaters’ near Boorowa, NSW
Poll Dorset sheep at ‘Springwaters’ near Boorowa, NSW, which produce the wool that goes into bedding products manufactured by Woolmark licensee Woolstar

Woolstar is a long-term Woolmark licensee and has found that ingredient branding in these markets, such as the use of the Woolmark logo on its packaging, adds value to its product. The company also believes that consumer education about wool products and their provenance story are important selling points.

“Customers are becoming more conscious of the benefits of using natural and accredited products,” says Woolstar owner Graeme Kerr.

“We are proud to be able to offer the sheep to shelf journey to our customers, allowing the entire supply chain to be showcased.”

‘Springwaters’ Poll Dorset Stud in the heart of Merino country at Boorowa, NSW, supplied about 3500 kilograms of fleece to Woolstar last year. Owned and run by Dennis Rowley, his wife Jo-Anne and their son Dane, their enterprise has about 1000 breeding ewes and is split across three properties, totalling about 2300 acres of land. The Downs wool produced at ‘Springwaters’ is well suited to home textiles such as quilts and underlays because the broader micron fleece has memory.

“There’s a certain spongy-ness, a certain elasticity in Dorset wool which is good for what Woolstar needs,” says Dennis.

“Jo-Anne, Dane and myself are pretty passionate about breeding Dorsets. We find that with our operation we can dedicate ourselves to giving full-time attention to the sheep and doing the best job possible with them.

“It’s a natural operation; we rotate the animals to ensure they all have pasture and fresh water, eliminating the need for supplementary feeding.”

The ‘Springwaters’ operation is now available for the world to see, after Woolstar recently visited the property to film a short promotional video. The footage, which shows Dennis explain to Graeme farming practices and how wool is produced, is being used by Woolstar to tell the provenance story of Australian wool.

“All of our packaging - from blankets to quilts and underlays - includes a QR code so that customers can scan the code with their smart phone or tablet and watch the video,” Mr Kerr said.

“Currently, this marketing campaign is being rolled out across Asia to tell our customers the story of how the wool bedding products came to be. It not only adds authority and assurance that a quality product is being purchased, but also allows the customer to buy more than a tangible good - they are buying a story and experience.”

For the Rowleys, knowing where their wool ends up and seeing the end product on the shelf both here in Australia and overseas is fulfilling.

“The Woolstar story is a very satisfying one,” says Dennis. “Firstly, to know where our wool is going is very rewarding, but more importantly, to know that an Australian company is making something in Australia to be exported to China is great news - quite the reverse situation to what happens with most of our industries.”