It will lead development of innovative products developed from hemp yarn, wool and hemp blends and non-woven hemp products.
NZ Yarn is owned by Carrfields Primary Wool (CPW) and independent investors including farmers, wool growers and others passionate about the wool industry and showcasing NZ wool yarn on a global scale.
The only independent spinning operation in Australasia, NZ Yarn makes and markets high-quality, spun woollen yarns for the carpet industry and global soft flooring market.
Hemp NZ is 100% NZ-owned by the Jordan and Draper families who grow hemp in five regions.
It grows, harvests and processes bulk hemp food products and industrial materials.
Under the agreement, Hemp NZ has acquired a 15% interest in NZ Yarn with the objective of installing a hemp fibre processing facility in NZ Yarn’s Christchurch factory.
NZ Yarn chairman Craig Carr said Hemp NZ’s investment is an important strategic milestone.
The partnership will be a catalyst for market-leading innovations in hemp fibre processing as well as the development of new consumer products made from a blend of wool and hemp yarn.
Carr said the hemp processing line, the first of its kind in NZ, will complement the whole natural fibres processing in NZ.
“Hemp NZ’s investment strengthens and diversifies the NZ Yarn business.
“It also enables NZ Yarn to engage in significant additional product innovation as well as broadening its product portfolio and customer base with a natural fibre that has huge unrealised potential,” Carr said.
“Hemp has many synergies with wool as well as sustainable, ethical provenance and environmental credentials.
“These qualities are of critical importance given the environmental catastrophe which synthetic fibres are contributing to.”
Carr said farmers will have more choice with an emerging powerful crop.
“Farmers will not only harvest hemp for oil, food and seed they will now be able to extract value from the straw which will mean more value per hectare overall.
“Hemp will be a very powerful crop going forward and it has huge environmental benefits.”
Product innovation trials of the wool and hemp blended fibre have already got customers excited, Carr said.
Hemp NZ chief executive Dave Jordan said the company’s investment in NZ Yarn signifies a major step in the growth and development of the hemp industry.
It will also enable Hemp NZ to set up a leading-edge, natural fibre processing line, which separates hemp stalks into fibre that can be woven and used in yarn systems and hurd, the woody core material that has fire retardant and insulating properties with many uses including in the construction industry.
The processing line will enable Hemp NZ and NZ Yarn to jointly develop hemp and a combination of wool and hemp products for the consumer and industrial markets both in NZ and overseas, Jordan said.
“There are many, many consumer and industrial uses for both hemp fibre and hurd.
“We’re extremely excited about partnering with NZ Yarn and initially developing hemp and wool yarn blends which will provide consumers with a wider variety of products made from natural fibres.”
Hemp NZ will work with NZ Yarn to investigate other uses for the fibre and hurd, which provide an environmentally friendly alternative across a huge range of industries globally including consumer products, food and industrial applications.
Hemp fibre has a long history of human use dating back thousands of years and is now undergoing a strong resurgence globally.
“The resurgence in popularity of hemp is based on its excellent environmental characteristics,” Jordan said.
“It is pest-resistant, easy to grow organically and produces a very good yield of fibre per hectare compared with many other crops.
“Hemp fibre doesn’t require chemical processing or bleaching, it blends very well with other fibres and it has excellent strength and durability.
“Overall, hemp can provide a very good return for both farmers and processors as well as a high-quality end product for the consumer,” Jordan said.
Its characteristics make hemp a great addition to NZ’s natural fibre marketing story alongside wool, Carr said.
“We see the partnership with Hemp NZ as a fantastic opportunity for farmers to diversify into growing hemp and to be part of the resurgence of natural fibre as well as the diverse future uses of hemp which we are looking forward to developing with Hemp NZ as we unlock the potential of this product.”