The Big Picture

An Industry That Never Stops Spinning

Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of the forest because all the trees are getting in the way. The same could be said for the complexity of the journey of a cottonseed from pre-emergence to the point where someone actually picks out a shirt in a store, bags it up, hauls it home, sticks their arms through the sleeves and eventually walks out the door to start their day.

The 2023 season grows ever closer to conclusion. Texas has already harvested their first bale of cotton – a fact that is always semi-annoying to growers from California to North Carolina. It’s even semi-annoying to other Texas growers who might as well live and operate their machinery a planet away from the Rio Grande Valley.

In reality, nothing stops when the deer blind starts. Far from the field, the process keeps spinning. Literally.

Data Driving Decisions

Technology continues to influence the entire industry with novel developments from field to fabric. Sometimes it’s all about the data. A new tool for spinning mills was recently launched at International Textile Machinery Association 2023 that allows mills to evaluate their performance in comparison with other cotton mills. The COTTON USA Mill Performance Index™ is designed to highlight how mills compare to their direct competition and how purchasing U.S. cotton increases productivity and provides higher yields.

Data from CCI’s Cotton USA Mill Performance Index can help spinning mills improve their operations to compete more effectively within the global industry.

ITMA is the world’s largest international textile and garment technology exhibition that showcases new technologies and developments in the industry. Although seemingly far removed from the day-to-day challenges of growing a cotton crop, it’s still part of the big picture that ultimately makes the difference.

“The benchmarking capability of this tool from Cotton Council International (CCI) has the potential to transform a mill’s performance,” said CCI Executive Director Bruce Atherley. “The COTTON USA Mill Performance Index™ shows how mills compare to their direct competition and how sourcing U.S. cotton ultimately increases productivity and provides higher yields.”

The COTTON USA Mill Performance Index anonymously collects data from participating spinning mills and gives performance measurements across five key cost drivers: material yield, machine productivity, labor productivity, efficiency management and energy management. Data security is a top priority, and anonymity is guaranteed.

The launch of this tool at ITMA 2023, the world’s largest international textile and garment technology exhibition, follows a pilot program of the COTTON USA Mill Performance Index™ involving 47 mills across 13 countries. The program showed that U.S. cotton increased labor productivity and lead to better running conditions/less ends down, higher yield in combed and carded yarns, higher machine productivity and higher spindle speed, according to CCI.

The COTTON USA Mill Performance Index™ is an invitation-only program available to spinning mills that are members of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®. To qualify, mills must process at least 10,000 bales of U.S. Upland and Supima cotton.

Marketing Madness

After the spinning, the spin begins. Or perhaps it never ends. Marketing programs across the Cotton Belt touch all facets of the industry. What begins locally in the field very often has a global impact. 

Supima Reaches Out

The 69th Supima annual meeting schedule will kick off in California on August 29 in Coalinga, California, and continue for the next few days on a whirlwind tour through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Details can be accessed online at

Long recognized as a leading liaison between growers and the textile industry, Supima is one of the leading innovators in cotton promotion – domestically and globally. The upcoming grower meetings will showcase the organization’s marketing efforts regarding traceability, transparency authentication as well as other programs.

CI Celebrates 50

While marketing is by its nature constantly evolving, some visuals are just plain noteworthy. 

Cotton Incorporated recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Seal of Cotton trademark, an iconic logo that transformed cotton from an agricultural commodity into a globally recognized symbol of natural comfort, trust and sustainability. 

The Seal of Cotton was introduced in 1973 as a symbol of trust, quality, sustainability and reliability to consumers, retailers and textile brands. It was designed in 1973 by Susan Landor Keegin, daughter of Walter Landor who founded branding giant Landor Associates.

Landor Keegin was inspired by seeing the cotton plant growing in the field. The Seal of Cotton was born, allowing for easy recognition of the fiber and differentiation from synthetic fibers.

“The assignment was to find a way to stand up against synthetics,” recalls Susan Landor Keegin. “I was going to see relatives who lived in the area and saw cotton growing in the fields with the bolls puffed up. Something about seeing it in person, the rigidity of the stem and the softness of the boll, I had never seen that.”

Today, the Seal of Cotton is used by over 950 brands in nearly 70 countries, becoming a global symbol associated with fashion, durability, quality and sustainability. Nearly eight in 10 consumers (78%) have awareness for the Seal, according to Cotton Incorporated’s 2023 Seal of Cotton Consumer Research.

“The 50th anniversary of the Seal of Cotton is a celebration of a highly recognizable icon that brings consumers a sense of emotional and physical comfort and familiarity,” said Kim Kitchings, senior vice president, consumer marketing for Cotton Incorporated. 

2023 In Retrospect

The books haven’t quite closed on the current season from a grower’s perspective except for maybe a few places far to the south in the Belt. Whether it’s the deer or duck blind, the beach or some other form of relaxation, it’s nice to know the rest of the industry is still ginning and spinning long after that last boll hits the hopper.  

Brenda Carol, a freelance writer based in San Luis Obispo, California, compiled the information for this article. Contact her at

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