Established in 1974 in Dannevirke in the lower North Island, Primary Wool Co-operative remains a 100% farmer-owned co-operative to this day, committed to capturing the real value of wool, returning profits to members and supporting industry-good initiatives.

Primary Wool Co-operative (PWC) was formed 43 years ago by a group of local farmers to increase the returns for wool growers. Over the ensuing decades, membership has grown to over 1300, with new shareholders joining each month and significant investment being made back into the NZ wool industry.

The co-operative was originally known as East Coast Wool Co-operative, and was formed to support the new woolspinning plant, New Zealand Woolspinners Ltd, and to allow farmers to participate further up the supply chain in scouring, spinning and exporting. Ever since, Primary Wool Co-operative has been working to change the model to increase returns for its members.

The co-operative did well for its members returning nearly $1,000,000 in rebates and dividends and 340,000 bonus shares on the original $190,000 invested. Over the next few years, PWC continued to track successes and strategically move into other parts of the wool industry.

A founder of the co-operative in 1974, Bay de Lautour (pictured) has been involved with wool his whole life and chairs the Primary Wool Co-operative Board of Directors.

Bay was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000 for his services to farming and dedication to New Zealand’s wool growers and the industry itself.

In April 2016 Bay was presented with the Laurie Dowling Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to Agriculture in Hawke’s Bay at the region’s Primary Sector Awards.

“We have been a co-operative since day one and intend to stay that way as the primary farmer-driven entity leading positive change and investing into the health of the wool industry,” says Bay.

“Committing to be a member of Primary Wool Co-operative means you are investing in industry-good initiatives with the objective of lifting demand for your wool. We’re continually seeking new ways to improve the New Zealand wool industry.”

In 2010 the Just Shorn™® brand was strategically launched by what is now known as CP Wool, a 50:50 joint venture between PWC and the Carr Group of Ashburton, in order to stimulate demand for wool carpet in the USA. Just Shorn™® was successfully launched in Australia in 2014 through the Carpet One Franchise while a more recent launch in New Zealand through the Harrisons Carpet One franchise has already exceeded expectations.

The graphic below shows what difference a co-op makes. As a co-operative, PWC operates under a different philosophical model to organisations that have a purely commercial and short term outlook. Like all other co-ops, it exists to benefit its Members over the longer term.

As part of its “industry-good” activities, the co-op supports several events and programmes, including:

2016 Sheep Industry Awards. Gold Sponsor of the Innovation Award

Shearing Sports NZ, a non-profit organization working to set quality standards for shearing & wool handling

New Zealand Campaign for Wool,  promoting the unique properties and uses of wool.