Unmasking wool's global journey from the shed to where it is sold

Tracking wool's global journey from the shearing shed to where a garment is sold

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Imagine a suit buyer being able to tap their phone app from anywhere in the world to trace the garment's wool back to an Australian farm.

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Consumers could find out exactly where their garment's material came from and whether it was sustainably produced.

Consumers could find out exactly where their garment's material came from and whether it was sustainably produced.

Imagine a suit buyer being able to tap their phone app from anywhere in the world to trace the garment's wool back to an Australian farm.

It is a long-held dream by Australian woolgrowers of being able to easily follow their clip through the production chain to final product.

For the consumer, being able to reverse that process means they can be sure of the authenticity of their purchase in an age of copying and bogus makers' claims.

It can also help reassure them their purchase is sustainably produced.

Australian Wool Innovation is investing in the use of blockchain as a solution to trace the wool "chain of custody" from farm to consumer.

Blockchain is computer speak for digital transactions, blockchain is a program which can assemble all those transactions in a single online ledger.

AWI has chosen to use the UK-based technology company Everledger transparency platform to track Aussie wool.

Everledger already use their expertise to track diamonds and even rare whisky as a way to beat counterfeiters.

With offices in Sydney, Everledger's brief is to "capture and make visible secure information about wool provenance and its supply chain to create new sources of value for wool growers, manufacturers and retailers".

Woolgrowers hope to be able to trace the lifetime journey of the best wool in the world.

For the tracking software to work, it will need to record "asset information" all the way along the wool supply chain.

In line with AWI's push to promote traceability in support of the Australian wool industry, Everledger will build and host an Electronic Chain of Custody Tool on its platform.

The aim is to track and validate the exchange of ownership of selected wools as they move up the supply chain from farm, to overseas processing and through to finished products.

Australia produces about 90 per cent of the world's fine apparel wool.

In this initial stage, Everledger's chain of custody tool will trace the journey of wool from farm to the end consumer, by identifying and capturing the necessary documentation at each stage of the value chain.

This platform will also demonstrate sustainability and compliance best practices and provide more confidence on the authenticity and provenance of the wool product.

AWI chief operations officer John Roberts said running the proof of concept initiative will inform the organisation about the applicability of blockchain technology to showcase and gauge industry appetite.

"A proof of concept will allow a more prudent use of growers funds, as from the project findings we will then determine whether we will invest in a full platform or look to participate in an alternative."

"Our organisation and stakeholders have been monitoring the rapid escalation in emphasis being placed on provenance, corporate social responsibility, and the perennial concerns regarding supply chain efficiency and biosecurity," he said.

"Traceability and transparency are critical for safeguarding the global reputation of Australian wool.

"This partnership with Everledger will help us to ease the flow of information up and down the supply chain to all parties, and so communicate wool's benefits to a wider audience."

Everledger CEO Leanne Kemp said: "Blockchain combined with other technologies can generate significant economic value to a range of sectors in Australia, contributing an estimated global annual business value of over $175 billion by 2025.

An important part of the tracing platform is to demonstrate sustainability of the product and compliance best practices

"AWI is taking a lead for other traditional industries in Australia to follow," Ms Kemp said.

"We're delighted to design and manage a solution that will help AWI to deliver a more transparent value chain. By sharing provenance information securely - from farm to consumer - all participants can enjoy the benefits of traceability."

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