Monday, July 7, 2008

Consumers Likely to Lose as PETA Herds US & European Importers of Australian Wool Products Like Sheep

The Wool Industry Gets Bloodied

Pressured by PETA, companies from Timberland to H&M are banning Australian wool

By Kerry Capell

Business Week

July 3, 2008

It's an unlikely international cause célèbre: sheep's rear ends. But because of activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it's an issue that threatens to undermine Australia's $2.2 billion wool industry.

Forget fur and leather—PETA's latest target is wool. Australian merino wool, to be exact. The animal rights group is on a quest to get clothing companies to quit using wool from so-called mulesed merino sheep. So far, more than 30 have signed on to the ban, including Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF), Timberland (TBL),

H&M, and Hugo Boss. On June 4, German sportswear giant Adidas became the latest global brand to add its name to the list. "Approaching companies with big names and deep pockets is the best way to drive change," says PETA official Matt Prescott.

PETA's gripe, mulesing, involves removing folds of skin from a sheep's hindquarters, a process named for John Mules, who devised it 70-plus years ago. The procedure, generally performed without anesthetics, guards against infestation by blowflies whose eggs hatch into flesh-eating maggots. Australian merinos are more susceptible to attacks because they've been bred to have wrinkly coats that boost wool output. Four years ago, when PETA first began lobbying against mulesing, few apparel makers had even heard of the practice.

The animal rights group picked Benetton, the Italian company whose name is often associated with sweaters, as its first target.
It dispatched protesters wielding placards that read "Benetton: Baaad to Sheep" to picket stores and put up a billboard in New York City with the tag line "Did your sweater cause a bloody butt?"

It worked. Benetton publicly came out in favor of phasing out mulesing. PETA has since had little trouble recruiting other clothing companies to its cause. After all, one European retailer says, who wants to be on PETA's radar screen?

Bad PR couldn't come at a worse time for the Australian wool industry. Production is at an 80-year low, a casualty of prolonged drought. Four years ago, Australian Wool Innovation, the industry's marketing, research, and development council, pledged to phase out mulesing by the end of 2010. AWI has already sunk $13 million into researching options. These range from high-tech (genetically breeding wrinkle-free sheep) to the decidedly crude (surgical clips that cause folds of skin to wither and fall off). AWI Chairman Brian van Rooyen says he is confident "there will be alternatives to mulesing ready for adoption prior to 2010."


Yet in the eyes of PETA and some retailers, the industry isn't moving fast enough. After H&M met with AWI at the start of the year, it decided to "direct our buying to mulesing-free merino wool because the company felt the phase-out of the practice was proceeding too slowly," says Ingrid Schullström, H&M's corporate social responsibility manager. Hugo Boss has held workshops with suppliers to increase the amount of wool sourced from unmulesed lambs. Both companies say they have been inundated with e-mails from consumers supporting the move to unmulesed wool. "Clearly, this is something that concerns many of our customers," says Schullström.

Australia's 55,000 sheep farmers, meanwhile, are unhappy about being cast as barbarians.

Mulesing, they say, is the best way to protect their flocks from an even worse fate: being chewed alive by maggots. Says Charles Olsson, a breeder in Goulburn, New South Wales: "We wouldn't perform this operation unless it was absolutely necessary."


Sports brands taking a stance

Brands of Sports Weblog

June 6, 2008

This appears to be something we are seeing more and more of in the industry.

Adidas announced Wednesday that they are boycotting Australian wool and sheep that have been mulesed.

Mulesing is viewed as an unnecessary way of taking wool from sheep and adidas communicated this in a letter to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the United States declaring its position on the matter. [ADDIDAS, A EUROPEAN COMPANY SELLS OUT...]

Fair play to adidas, they clearly have an agenda which appears to be addressing their production practices and appeal to consumers and their inner desire to do good. Only recently did they announce the grun collection which aims to better the environment by efficiently utilizing the natural resources of this world.

Now a worldwide consumer movement, as they (consumers) demand brands to be transparent and to offer clarity on their stance on certain issues. The sporting goods industry appear to be taking this as a real top of agenda item, reacting fast and with real purpose. Yes, consumers still and will always demand value but they also want a brand ‘with’ values - values that they can relate to in every sense of the word. [VERY FEW CONSUMERS CARE ABOUT THIS NONSENSE, CONTRARY TO WHAT THE PETA GROUP SAYS. IT'S ALL ABOUT PRESERVING BRAND REPUTATION AMID THREATS OF PUBLIC DISPARAGEMENT.]


Australia: Hugo Boss to Ban Wool Produced Using Mulesing

CSRwire - Video Commentary & Research (

By natalie

Hugo Boss has said that it will avoid wool for its fashion clothing chain from producers still using the practice of mulesing by 2010. The move prompted the Australian Wool Growers Association to say that it expected Australian producers to have largely moved towards alternatives to the practice within the two year deadline. Around 15 to 20 percent of the Australian wool farms producing 'superfine wool' supply Hugo Boss.


Hugo Boss rejects mulesing

By Catherine Clifford

ABC Rural - New South Wales News


Australia's wool industry is once again defending its efforts to find an alternative to mulesing, after European fashion giant, Hugo Boss, announced it will phase out its purchase of Australian wool from mulesed sheep.


The company, which has 1,252 stores in 105 countries, also says it will not support the use of clips as an alternative to the controversial practice.Mulesing is the surgical removal of skin from the rear of the sheep to prevent flystrike and the clips have been developed as an alternative to shut off blood flow to the skin, which effectively dies within 24 hours. After a period of time the clips and the skin fall off, or the clips can be removed.

In a strongly-worded statement, the German-based retailer, which sources Australian wool for its classic Mens' collections, said it must disassociate itself from mulesing because the practice contravenes the company's corporate values. [THIS IS CALLED 'PETA-WASHING'].

The statement went on to say that if mulesing in Australia has not ended completely by 2010, Hugo Boss will refuse to purchase wool material from farms that perform mulesing, including from farms that employ what the company refers to as "clip mulesing".

Spokeswomen Meera Ullal and Dr Hjördis Kettenbach say Hugo Boss considers clips to cause suffering, too.

"The clip is applied to the sheep's skin, there is no blood circulation, the skin dies and falls off so, for us in our understanding, it would be another form of mulesing," they say.

Hugo Boss says it has been involved in ongoing discussions with the Australian government and Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) for several years over the issue, stating it has repeatedly highlighted its desire to both parties for "more animal-friendly treatment of sheep".

Ms Ullal said Hugo Boss hopes its announcement, to concentrate its purchases on non-mulesed wool, will set a clear example for the international retail and textile industry and bring new momentum to Australia's efforts to find a suitable, pain-free alternative to mulesing.

Manager of the Australian Wool and Sheep Industry Taskforce, veterinarian Dr Norm Blackman, says the Taskforce is disappointed Hugo Boss has included clips in its statement on mulesing, saying, by definition, the two are very different.


Australia: Hugo Boss to ban wool produced using mulesing

Business Respect, Issue Number 126

16 Apr 2008

Hugo Boss has said that it will avoid wool for its fashion clothing chain from producers still using the practice of mulesing by 2010 saying that such practices contravene the company's corporate values.

The move prompted the Australian Wool Growers Association to say that it expected Australian producers to have largely moved towards alternatives to the practice within the two year deadline. At the moment, it said, farmers are using pain relief techniques whilst searching for viable alternatives.

Around 15 to 20 percent of the Australian wool farms producing 'superfine wool' supply Hugo Boss.

Campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been waging an ongoing struggle against Australian farmers to see an end to mulesing.

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