Paul Smith, Farm Manager, dressed in a neon vest, overseeing his many sheep.

Changing wool for the better

Paul is gathering the sheep at his farm in New Zealand. This is something he has done all his life. For him it is important to treat the sheep with respect, and together with Paul and other farmers IKEA is working on a system for establishing a fully traceable wool supply chain.

“I think wool is an awesome product because sheep produce it naturally,” says Paul Smith, Farm Manager on the south island of New Zealand. “And it’s the ultimate sustainability because they grow it back every year, they just keep growing it. So for their welfare we take it off them, but it means we can use it as a valuable product.”

Developing high standards in a large industry takes both patience and long term commitment. Paul has been working on sheep farms all his life. It is together with farmers like him that IKEA has started a journey to map our wool supply chain to work towards transforming all the IKEA wool to 100 percent Responsibly Sourced Wool by 2025. Succeeding in tracing the wool used in the IKEA range back to its origin is key to ensuring respectful animal welfare for the sheep.

“We have decided to work with the Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) in our wool supply chain to ensure the responsible sourcing of wool. The RWS ensures that the sheep are treated with respect and that the land they graze on is managed responsibly”, says Rahul Ganju, Textiles Sustainability Manager at IKEA.

A man inside a barn with a flock of sheep.

Paul Smith, Farm manager in New Zealand.

A man in a high-vis vest by a fence with a flock of sheep.

IKEA will secure full traceability of wool from the farm to the final product to drive positive change in the wool industry to support animal welfare. Working with partners in New Zealand, IKEA has begun sourcing wool from approximately 100 farms who follow the RWS guideline. The benefit of starting in New Zealand is due to its long tradition of working with and trading wool in a well-structured and organised way.

The local strategic partners provide high quality RWS accredited wool and they share the IKEA commitment to improve conditions in the industry. This means that IKEA can learn and gain competence during the implementation process. Just as with the development of sourcing cotton from more sustainable sources, IKEA is starting small scale. In the future we will take the ways of working into other countries supplying wool for IKEA.

“IKEA is committed to moving our supply chains and sourcing goods from more sustainable sources. When working towards meeting the long-term goal for IKEA to move away from virgin fossil based materials, wool is a sustainable choice” says Rahul.

A flock of sheep running in a field with trees in the background.

Wool has stood the test of time and provided jobs for hundreds of years. It is renewable, it ages well and is easy to dye and style for beautiful products. Ensuring respectful and fair treatment in every aspect of the wool supply chain is crucial for IKEA when continuing to work with wool.

Responsible sourcing of the materials we use in our product range is important. More than that – it is essential. IKEA wants to be able to meet the needs of people today without compromising the needs of future generations. A big part of this starts with knowing where our materials come from, how they are being managed at any given time and the conditions surrounding the work done and led by IKEA and our partners.

A pair of hands touching a pile of freshly cut white wool.
IKEA will secure full traceability of wool from the farm to the final product.

For more behind the scenes on how our wool supply chain works, click here