Regenerative Wool Shaking Up the Textile Industry

Published: December 20, 2017 

Savory Institute team member, Chris Kerston, was invited to speak at the International Wool Trade Organization’s (IWTO) roundtable event in Port Elizabeth, South Africa earlier this month. South Africa is one of the premier wool growing and processing regions of the world. This annual event is designed to bring people together from across the wool industry to help develop new collaborations and synergies in both the textile and apparel industries. Our founder, Allan Savory, spoke at one of the IWTO gatherings in 2014 (watch here). This led to a demand for closer interaction with the Savory Institute, as wool producers there proactively look for ways to further improve their grazing management to regenerate their landscapes.

At the IWTO event this year, Chris presented in tandem with the Savory Hub leader in South Africa, Rolf Pretorius. In addition to presenting, Chris and Rolf met with individuals representing all areas of the wool supply chain to discuss the excitement around our new outcome-based Ecological Outcome Verification, and subsequent Land To Market program. Rolf has been a very active participant in this emerging program and is set up as one of our prototype Hubs to lead this initiative in this region. He works closely with both commercial ranchers and community farmers in the region.

Chris also got the opportunity to visit BKB, a wool broker and auction house. BKB is the largest aggregator in the country and markets 62% of the country’s wool. South Africa has a long history raising quality wool and was the first country outside Europe to own Merinos. This history dates back as far as 1789, when the Netherlands government donated two Spanish Merino rams and four Spanish Merino ewes to a military commander there to experiment with. Today, it is one of the largest wool growing regions for the apparel industry with about 15 million merino sheep (see Bloomberg article).