London, 7 April 2022 – Today, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS released a new report revealing that each of the ten largest global sports brands still use merino wool in their product range.
The sportswear industry has been making use of the flexible and technical nature of wool for years, with merino wool found in yoga pants, cycling jerseys and running trousers.
As the popularity of merino wool has increased since the pandemic, so has the responsibility of manufacturers for the consideration of animal welfare.
Many consumers are unaware that this textile is so intertwined with cruelty. Frequently it is sourced from sheep who are mulesed within the first few months of their lives.
The cruel method of mulesing involves cutting out large chunks of skin from two to ten-week-old lambs with sharp scissors without anesthesia. This method is used despite painless alternatives long being available.
As the world's largest sportswear manufacturer, Nike stands out within the report, for all the wrong reasons.
Findings have shown that the brand is lagging some distance behind its two biggest competitors, Puma and Adidas, in terms of animal welfare. Both of whom have already made plans to switch to certified mulesing-free wool in 2025 and 2030 respectively.
FOUR PAWS now calls on Nike to follow suit and take this crucial step towards more animal welfare and spare millions of lambs every year from immense suffering and pain.
"Nike claims to support mulesing-free wool, but so far has not taken any concrete action to exclude its use.
“Despite our repeated attempts to find out about the country of origin of the wool and measures to exclude mulesing, we have been met by silence.
“Now we are calling on Nike to reliably exclude animal cruelty methods in their supply chain by committing to only using certified mulesing-free wool.
“This change will have a huge impact on millions of lambs, saving them from severe pain."
Emily Wilson, UK Head of Campaigns, FOUR PAWS UK
A systemic problem
The Australian wool industry is by far the world's largest producer (80%) of fine merino wool. For its new report, FOUR PAWS commissioned an independent laboratory in the UK to examine wool samples from various companies. And the results strongly suggest the merino products in Nike’s range contain Australian merino.
But it is not just Nike who are complicit in supporting this cruelty. The UK is also at risk of importing more wool produced using methods that are illegal here, due to a Free Trade Agreement with Australia.
“Worryingly, with the UK’s borders open to trade agreements with Australia, we now leave ourselves available and complicit in the trade of mulesed wool, a practice so cruel and painful that it is banned in the UK.
“The issue of mulesing is also an industry problem. Nike, a global leader in the business, has an opportunity here to take a strong stance on animal welfare and get the industry to rethink quickly.
“We’re asking them to just do it and finally eradicate mulesed wool from its supply chains.”
Sonul Badiani-Hamment, UK Country Director, FOUR PAWS UK,