Thursday, 23 December, 2021
When it comes to counting sheep to get to sleep, 20,000 sustainably farmed in Taupo is the magic number. Bed company Comfi, which has just launched as the country’s first online bed store with a ‘‘social purpose,’’ has partnered with award-winning company Taupo Beef and Lamb, and Australasia’s largest mattress and foam manufacturer the Comfort Group, to create wool infused beds.
Taupo Beef and Lamb formed in 2000 when several farmers and Maori trusts within the Lake Taupo Catchment accepted a cap on livestock numbers to reduce nitrogen entering the lake by 20 per cent. Comfi, founded by Auckland mothers Vicki Eriksen and Susie Harris after they struggled online to find quality beds for their teenagers during 2020’s nationwide lockdown, is set to use approximately 40,000 to 50,000 kilograms of its wool from about 20,000 sheep a year. Eriksen, who has a background in human resources, said although the company was paying a premium for the wool, the partnership was a perfect fit. ‘‘We talked to the Comfort Group about what products we could use and the suggestion came around about wool. People are completely passionate about supporting New Zealand companies and New Zealand made,’’ she said. ‘‘My husband Simon Eriksen is the chief executive of Neat Meat, so we had a direct link with the Taupo Beef and Lamb farmers and thought, well let’s approach them. Because what better place for us to be getting our wool than from one of the most beautiful sustainable stories on the planet. Because the wool comes from this Taupo area and the welfare of the animals is so good, the quality of the fibre is really high. We pay a premium for it but it reflects the cost of environmental farming and our customers are super willing to pay for that as well.’’ She said using wool within the company’s pocket spring beds, which retail at around half the price of equivalent products in brick-and-mortar stores, would have a significant impact on New Zealand’s sustainably sourced wool sales.
In July mainstream wool prices nose-dived with strong wool selling for as little as $2 per kilogram, a third of what it was worth five years ago. ‘‘The more people buy the beds the more wool we can use and the more we can support our farmers,’’ she said. ‘‘We launched a month ago and we have already sold 350 beds. ‘‘We just need to get around the consumer behaviour of needing to touch and feel before you buy because you don’t. We offer a 100-night trial, contactless free delivery, and a ten-year warranty so you can literally buy a bed from your keyboard and if you don’t like it we will replace or refund you fully.’’ The company’s focus on supporting New Zealand doesn’t stop there either. Aware that more than one in ten children don’t have their own bed, for every five beds sold it will donate a bed and pillow to a child in need, through charity Woven Earth. Taupo¯ Beef and Lamb was approached for comment but is yet to respond.