Cotton Council International, the National Cotton Council’s export promotion arm, is educating manufacturers, mills and brands/retailers on why U.S. cotton is the “The Cotton The World Trusts” to drive the fiber’s export growth.
■ How important is sustainability to creating demand?
Although U.S. cotton producers traditionally have led the world in innovation, quality and responsible stewardship, there is not enough awareness of their efforts to produce more sustainably grown cotton.
That’s why sustainability now is a core component of CCI’s export promotion strategy. CCI shares U.S. cotton producers’ leadership in and commitment to sustainable growing practices with mills, manufacturers, and brands/retailers around the globe.
Brands and retailers are under more pressure to embrace sustainability, including proving they are doing their part to combat climate change, but they have lacked the data to do so. No doubt, the demand for more sustainably produced products will mean U.S. cotton producers must show their past and future commitments.
Fortunately, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol is proving to be a great vehicle for providing brands and retailers with a measurable sustainability program and the confidence they need to source U.S. cotton.
That’s because the program aggregates year-over-year data on critical metrics including water use, greenhouse gas emissions, energy use, soil carbon, soil loss and land use efficiency. U.S. cotton producers’ participation in this data-backed and third-party verified program also provides another significant benefit — it draws important attention to their commitment to “continuous improvement.”
■ What about Trust Protocol participation?
To demonstrate their sustainable stewardship, about 300 U.S. cotton producers were fully enrolled in the Trust Protocol for the 2020 crop. For those producers who want to enroll their 2021 crop, click the Join Now button at the top of the Trust Protocol website’s home page, www.trustuscotton.org.
The Trust Protocol has welcomed more than 450 members since its launch in 2020. This includes Levi Strauss & Co, one of the most recognizable denim companies worldwide, and its legacy brands Levi’s, Dockers, Denizen by Levi’s, and Signature by Levi Strauss & Co.; Gap Inc. and its collection of purpose-led lifestyle brands Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta as well as global apparel manufacturer Gildan.
Some Trust Protocol brand/retailer members, in fact, are participating in the pilot phase of the Protocol Credit Management System, which provides its members with complete supply chain transparency through use of TextileGenesis’ blockchain technology.
U.S. cotton textile mills — including Buhler Quality Yarns, Cap Yarns, CCW, Contempora Fabrics, Cotswold Industries Inc., Frontier Yarns, Hamrick Mills, Inman Mills, Parkdale Inc. and Swisstex Direct — were some of the first to join the Trust Protocol. They were featured in a public relations campaign highlighting their transparency and sustainability to raise awareness of the individual companies and their products.
Gary Adams is president/CEO of the National Cotton Council of America and also serves as Trust Protocol president. He and other NCC leaders contribute columns on this Cotton Farming page.