The world’s fifth-largest apparel retailer Uniqlo has become the latest company to agree to immediately begin phasing out the purchase of merino wool from Australian suppliers who mutilate lambs in a procedure called ‘mulesing’.
The Japanese retailer, part of Fast Retailing, is following in the footsteps of nearly 50 other major international companies – including Topshop, H&M, Next, C&A, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Timberland, who have all pledged and completed their phase-out of wool from mulesed sheep and have implemented outright bans on it.
Mainly practiced in Australia, mulesing involves cutting large chunks of skin and flesh from the rear ends of merino sheep, often without any pain relief, in an attempt to prevent maggot infestations known as flystrike.
The decision follows the recent launch of an international campaign by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to encourage apparel retailer to source wool only from non-mulesed sheep.
Uniqlo’s Group Senior Vice President Yukihiro Nitta wrote in a letter to PETA Australia: "We are aware of concerns raised over the practice of mulesing sheep, and because of our commitment to animal welfare and health, we have directed our merino wool suppliers to phase out sourcing wool from farms that practice mulesing".