London 6th September 2021 - At the Wool Connect Conference (7th - 9th September), global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS will once again speak out against animal cruelty in the fashion industry. With an open letter signed by over 30 global fashion brands, including Adidas, M&S, Missguided, Primark and People Tree, the animal welfare organisation is addressing the Australian sheep wool industry, the world's largest producer of merino wool. Their goal is simple, eliminate mulesing by 2030. Initiated for the second time by the Schneider Group, an Italian family business and major sheep wool supplier, wool producers and sheep farmers worldwide will have the opportunity to meet directly with industry representatives at the conference to discuss issues such as mulesing.
"The brand letter is intended to send a strong signal to the Australian wool industry that it is time to abolish mulesing once and for all by setting concrete measures to enable the transition. More and more wool producers, fashion brands and consumers are demanding this and it can no longer be ignored by producers," says Rebecca Picallo Gil, FOUR PAWS Wool Campaigner.
The industry (still) leads the way
The Australian Wool Innovation (AWI), the industry association representing the interests of Australian wool producers, outline in its Wool 2030 Strategy a desire for wool growers to have tools and confidence to manage flystrike without mulesing. FOUR PAWS welcomes the goal, but notes an absence of how this will be achieved. According to Picallo Gil whilst this is positive news, there is more to be done: "Many brands are switching to use only certified mulesing-free wool from 2025, five years earlier than the proposals from AWI! In addition to the five year extra grace, studies have shown that the switch to resistant sheep breeds that make mulesing redundant takes only three to five years per farm. The AWI must be more consistent here and, above all, present a tangible action plan on how this goal is actually to be achieved by 2030."
A growing desire for animal welfare in the wardrobe
According to a recent FOUR PAWS survey of nearly 14,000 participants across twelve countries from Europe, North America, Africa and Australia, consumers' buying behaviour has changed since COVID-19: Almost one third (31%) of the respondents either consciously look for clothes with animal welfare standards or avoid animal derived textiles completely. Brands that follow this trend are preferred by one in three adults (37%) over other brands. This change in shopper behaviour has not only been spotted by brands; the entire supply chain is responding to these changing preferences.
Says Paul Smith Head of Sourcing & Product Technology at Missguided: “As a responsible retailer animal welfare is important to us and the use of Mulesing has for many years been highlighted as a particularly traumatic procedure. We cannot condone the use of Mulesing, especially when there are other methods of controlling fly infestations, and are therefore happy to sign this letter showing our support in the phasing out of this procedure”
Further to this, Ruth, the Technical and Development Manager at People Tree, states:
"People Tree are passionate about animal welfare and have signed a letter of intent with FOUR PAWS that mulesing should be banned.
People Tree are committed to animal welfare in our supply chain. Our sheep’s wool is from New Zealand, which has an Animal Welfare Act establishing a duty of care for animals. Our Merino wool is from GOTS certified organic merino wool yarn, which follow organic standards including high welfare standards, organic feed, good husbandry and prohibits mulesing."
"For the sake of animals, consumers and fashion brands, we want to use the momentum of the open brand letter to encourage AWI to develop a bold action plan to make mulesing history by 2030 the latest,"
Rebecca Picallo Gil, FOUR PAWS Wool Campaigner