Interview with ERDOS
ERDOS Cashmere Group is a key stakeholder of The Good Cashmere Standard. One of the world’s largest producers of cashmere, ERDOS is based in Inner Mongolia and has been an important partner and supporter of the new standard from the beginning. In the following interview, ERDOS offers exclusive insights into its business and reflects on its partnership with The Good Cashmere Standard during the past year.
ERDOS was the very first partner of The Good Cashmere Standard. How did the first year go from your point of view?
ERDOS Group was the first to support the AbTF team, inviting them to conduct research in the ERDOS pasture areas in Inner Mongolia. On several occasions, the ERDOS team and the GCS team visited buying stations and pasture areas together. Direct contact with herders allowed the GCS team to better understand the local living habits and conditions of herders and goats. This made it easier to implement GCS swiftly, successfully, and with the full support of the herder communities.
As the first supplier worldwide to obtain the GCS certification, ERDOS introduces and promotes GCS at different customer levels, including among existing and potential customers. Many of them have already placed GCS orders or are currently in the process of doing so. The positive response from the market encourages us to work harder and to further advocate for GCS.
What were your greatest challenges in implementing The Good Cashmere Standard?
One of the challenges in implementing GCS was to make it easier for herders adapt to the requirements of GCS. We understand that the protection of pastures and goats cannot simply be mechanised, as the customs and habits of the herders need to be taken into account. It was a big challenge for herders to change their way of working. To support both GCS and the herders, the ERDOS team visited the pastures and talked to the herders individually, one by one. We provided the herders with continuous training and with practical assistance in meeting animal welfare requirements. In addition, we thoroughly explained and introduced new practices to the herders.
How has COVID-19 affected the cashmere business for ERDOS?
In the early stages of the epidemic, under the care and leadership of the government, ERDOS Group actively responded to the government’s call for epidemic prevention and containment. In addition to using our own resources to produce materials aimed at containing the epidemic and preventing its spread, we were also able to purchase anti-epidemic materials with the help of contributions made by overseas customers and friends for this purpose.
The international market contracted due to the epidemic. Although this had a large effect on ERDOS Group’s export sales, the export business did not dry up completely because ERDOS products are very appreciated by the market. The impact on our European market, in particular, was not as big as expected. By contrast, the domestic market was initially affected by the epidemic. However, it recovered rapidly due to China’s excellent performance in controlling the epidemic. Since the market recovery, the business situation within ERDOS has improved, and the results are encouraging.
Animal welfare is a priority for The Good Cashmere Standard. What is your assessment of animal welfare in China?
Animal welfare is getting more and more attention in China. Sustainability has been a key strategy of ERDOS for the past ten years. Our goal is to revitalise and preserve the grasslands, to improve the eco-system, to cope with climate change, to prevent desertification, and to protect animal and herder welfare. We will keep our focus on this field and work harder to promote animal welfare.
What is the initial feedback from farmers regarding The Good Cashmere Standard?
The ERDOS team spends a lot of time in the pasture and with the herders. We understand the difficulties and problems faced by the herders, and we recognise the challenges they face in implementing GCS. For example, GCS requires herders to keep various written records. We agree that this is helpful for herders for many reasons, e.g. to start applying scientific breeding methods. However, some herders speak only Mongolian. To solve this problem, our team found local translators to thoroughly explain GCS to the herders and to create a Mongolian version of the document. This made it easier for the herders to understand the importance of GCS for the protection of the grasslands and the environment as well as for the promotion of animal welfare.
What are your expectations for The Good Cashmere Standard in the future?
As a leader in the cashmere industry, ERDOS Group has the social responsibility to protect grasslands, animals, and herders. Because ERDOS Group is a key stakeholder and supporter of AbTF with regard to GCS, we have a special affinity for the GCS project. We believe that, with the support of ERDOS, the GCS project will find continued success in the future and further grow its popularity among retailers, brands, and consumers. We look forward to promoting the concept of GCS sustainability on the world stage through our partnership with AbTF.