New Value to Wool: Innovative Garments for Preservation of Sheep Landraces in Italy

Animals (Basel). 2021 Mar 8;11(3):731. doi: 10.3390/ani11030731.


In Basilicata, southern Italy, a sheep landrace jeopardized of extinction is Gentile di Puglia due to low production levels, low market values of milk and meat, and replacement of wool with synthetic fibers. Due to these dynamics farmers progressively resort to intensive breeding systems, hence causing the gradual disappearance of the ovine sector, the withering of traditional breeding culture and the abandonment of internal and marginal territories. However, in changing climate, traditional agriculture is getting increased attention worldwide by the consumers who are embracing emerging sustainable food production. Thus, in the light of a possible conservation strategy, the study investigates the prospective market for a garment (pullover) produced with wool from Gentile di Puglia, and woven through traditional techniques. An integrated methodological approach based on choice experiments and Bass diffusion model was carried out in order to analyze the consumers' preferences, the penetration market of this innovative product and the new wool value for farmers. The results pointed out a potential demand focused on women aged 50 years and more and a recognized wool value to farmers of 55 € animal-1 (22 € kg-1). This new revenue could allow the reduction of the difference in gross margin between the Gentile di Puglia and the non-autochthonous intensively-farmed Comisana from 57% to 3%. The production of further wool garments for a wider demand could increase the economic sustainability of Gentile di Puglia, making it even more preferable than other highly productive breeds.

Keywords: Italy; animal biodiversity; bass diffusion model; choice experiments; sheep wool.