Cotton USA and Oritain have signed a partnership to provide forensic verification of origin for all U.S. cotton. A global first for the cotton industry, this collaboration will give brands and retailers the assurance they need to make responsible sourcing and purchasing decisions.
“We’re thrilled that Cotton USA is taking the lead when it comes to traceability,” said Rupert Hodges, Oritain executive director. “We want to support Cotton USA (growers) who are making a conscious effort to find real, workable ways of farming more sustainably. The result is an incredibly high-quality crop that not only performs well but supports the environment. Now through Oritain, customers who choose U.S. cotton can have total confidence that they are getting the product that they sourced.”
While this level of traceability is new, the U.S. cotton industry has always strived to grow and deliver high quality cotton that is the most sustainable produced in the world. This ambition is already being realized through improved fiber properties, increased productivity and a shrinking environmental footprint. All cotton-producing regions in the United States plan to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, soil loss, and water, energy and land use.
“This partnership with Oritain will provide Cotton USA with a unique selling point in both domestic and export markets,” said Bruce Atherley, Cotton Council International executive director. “Now U.S. cotton will offer the highest level of end-to-end traceability in the industry combined with a raw material that is leading the way in terms of sustainable practices — two things that global clothing brands now demand from their suppliers.”
To achieve the level of traceability that the industry is demanding, Oritain’s unique method applies forensic science to detect trace elements in the cotton itself. Soil composition and other environmental factors give the cotton an inherent “fingerprint” specific to each location – what Oritain calls the origin fingerprint.
This is the only way to be sure of where particular cotton was grown. Cotton can be tested at any stage on its journey from farm to shop floor, giving buyers complete assurance that the product has not been substituted along the way.
Guaranteeing origin will address traceability challenges faced by the global cotton industry, including minimizing the risk of supply chain partners blending the product with lower quality fibers.
This new partnership follows a successful pilot program and rigorous blind test for Oritain, during which samples were collected across Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee, and subsequently identified with 100% accuracy.