Ever-fluctuating global dynamics make Cotton Council International’s (CCI) market development and promotion activities critical to maintaining U.S. raw cotton exports and the U.S. cotton industry’s economic future.
How has the U.S. export scenario shifted?
In the early 1990s, U.S. textile mills bought six of every 10 U.S. bales. Now, eight of 10 bales move into the export market. For the past decade, China has been the largest home for U.S. cotton, now buying three of 10 U.S. bales, while Turkey and Mexico remain the next two largest export customers. Seven Asian countries round out the top 10 U.S. cotton customer list. Col-lectively, they do not import as much as China, but each is an important market and significant growth opportunity for U.S. cotton.
What are the effects of China policy?
Recent changes in China’s cotton policy keep its internal price above $1.30 per pound. China’s desire to maintain cotton reserves and support prices to farmers has created a market whereby cotton is non-competitive with polyester. China’s textile mills have responded by reducing the amount of cotton they spin and are moving to polyester. Under their current policy, China is quickly approaching self-sufficiency in raw cotton, and their days of dominating world cotton trade could be numbered. That’s not to suggest that China’s consumers are turning away from cotton. China’s textile industry is importing more cotton yarn in an effort to keep cotton products on their shelves. As a result, shifts in cotton mill use are emerging, and yarn mills in other parts of Asia are reaping the benefits. Of those seven Asian countries mentioned above, only Pakistan has significant domestic production. Thus, growth in the other six countries’ mill demand will be satisfied with imported cotton.
How is CCI ensuring that U.S. cotton is the fiber of choice?
Operating in approximately 50 countries, CCI demonstrates U.S. cotton’s quality, performance and value with marketing and sales programs throughout the cotton textile supply chain. CCI begins by enlightening textile mills that buy raw cotton as to why U.S. cotton is a better investment vs. other cotton growths. Next, CCI-hosted sales and marketing events bring together international mills with U.S. cotton exporters. These efforts are enhanced through trade missions and orientation tours in which CCI brings international textile executives to the Cotton Belt to learn about the quality controls that make U.S. cotton a premium product. CCI’s COTTON USA Mark licensing and promotion program completes the supply chain by partnering with leading international mills, retailers and brands to build worldwide consumer demand for U.S. cotton-rich items sold at retail and identified with the COTTON USA Mark hangtag. Globally, CCI now has more than 550 COTTON USA Mark licensees and more than 100 million cotton items featuring the COTTON USA Mark.
The bottom line: U.S. cotton’s value not only lies in its innate high quality but the tremendous value-added services and marketing support the fiber receives from the U.S. cotton industry. In other words, no other cotton producer in the world stands behind its fiber like U.S. Producers.
Mark Lange is president and chief executive officer for the National Cotton Council of America. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.