The Rise Of New Zealand Cashmere: Farming Luxury Fibres With Olivia Sanders

The Rise Of New Zealand Cashmere: Farming Luxury Fibres With Olivia Sanders

Olivia Sanders is the Business Development Manager for New Zealand Cashmere and a third-generation fine wool farmer who deals with supporting over 20 South Island growers.

With her unique insights, Sanders shares the transformative journey of integrating cashmere goats into traditional farming landscapes, which historically consisted of merino sheep and Angus cattle. 

One of the key talking points revolves around the industry's shift in perception regarding cashmere goats. Initially regarded as "feral nuisances," these goats are now being rebranded as "foundation animals" of a luxury fibre revolution. Sanders, also known as the "Crazy Goat Girl," highlights the practical and ecological benefits of cashmere farming. 

"[It's] really, really exciting around what they can do in terms of improving clover cover, biological weed control, spending less money, time, machinery costs on weeds, what they can do fibre-wise [it's] really exciting." 

Another significant aspect discussed is the financial potential of cashmere farming. Sanders provides a compelling narrative of the economic viability, revealing that cashmere can fetch prices between "$110 and $150 per kilo." She emphasises the minimal competition for resources and the additional economic opportunity it represents for farmers. 

"It's an additional revenue stream," she explains, "and it's an opportunity for everybody." 

Moreover, Sanders touches on the recent investment in a state-of-the-art processing plant in Wellington, signalling a robust commitment to the industry. 

"So wool yarns own New Zealand cashmere and they've come to the party big time in terms of, they've just finished building a $3 million processing plant that's bespoke for cashmere … this is a huge bit of tech in New Zealand, the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere." 

Throughout the conversation, Olivia Sanders paints a vivid picture of how cashmere farming is not only reshaping agricultural practices but also contributing positively to New Zealand's position in the global luxury fashion market. 

She successfully challenges preconceived notions about goat farming and invites farmers to consider cashmere goats as a lucrative and environmentally friendly addition to their farms. 

Her passionate narrative and the sensory experience she offers by comparing merino wool to cashmere underscore the transformative potential that luxury fibres like cashmere hold for New Zealand's future in farming.

Listen to the full chat between Olivia Sanders and Dominic George above.

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