Icebreaker: 44,000 Customers use Internet to Trace Garments Back to the Farm

Wednesday, 25 March 2009
Wellington, New Zealand (24 March 2009) - More than 44,000 people have experienced Baacode, the pioneering online traceability program launched in August 2008 by New Zealand merino outdoor apparel company Icebreaker.

With this year's Earth Day on April 22, sustainable consumption will be even more on consumers' minds. According to Earth Day Network (, the day will include the organization's launch of its Green Generation Campaign, which culminates with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. Among the campaign's core principles is fostering "an individual's commitment to responsible, sustainable consumption."

Icebreaker founder and CEO Jeremy Moon believes sustainable consumption begins with transparency and traceability.

"We are trying to design a company that is inherently self-sustaining and not at the expense of the environment," says Moon. "We think transparency should be a core principle of any sustainability effort, and we're really grateful that 44,000 people cared enough to go online and see how Icebreakers are made."

Icebreaker Baacode invites customers to trace their garments from the farm through each stage of the supply chain process. Each Icebreaker garment carries a unique Baacode, which customers enter at to view the living conditions of the merino sheep, meet the farmers who run the sheep stations, and follow the production process that turns premium Icebreaker merino fiber into sleek athletic garments.

Very few companies have introduced traceability programs for consumer products, and most of those that have are in the food industry. Of those existing programs, most start at factory production level, while Icebreaker's Baacode starts with the raw material - the sheep stations (farms) in New Zealand's Southern Alps, where the fiber is grown, sheared and baled for shipping.

Icebreaker prohibits mulesing (the controversial practice of removing skin near the sheep's tail to prevent flystrke) in its contracts with growers, and sets strict standards of care of sheep dogs.

Icebreaker merino is renewable and biodegradable. The company's partner manufacturers are required to demonstrate strong business ethics, have an up-to-date manufacturing plant and access to the latest technology. They must be part of, or working towards, a global quality assurance program (such as ISO 9001), and/or comply with Oeko-Tex environmental standards for textiles.

About Icebreaker
Launched in 1994, Icebreaker was the first company in the world to develop a merino fiber layering system for the outdoors. It was also the first outdoor apparel company in the world to source merino directly from growers, a system it began in 1997. There are now 10 distinct pure merino fabrics in the Icebreaker system, covering underwear, mid layer, and outerwear.

Icebreaker is sold in more than 2,000 stores in 24 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America. Based in Wellington, New Zealand, Icebreaker uses only pure merino hand-picked from 120 high country stations in the country's Southern Alps to create edgy outdoor clothing that combines nature's work with human technology and design. The company is committed to sustainability, ethical manufacturing and animal welfare. In 2008 the company launched "Icebreaker Baacode," a pioneering supply chain transparency program. Each Icebreaker includes a unique Baacode, which enables customers to trace the garment online from rearing the sheep through to each stage of the supply chain process.

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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