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Organic cotton production falls 8% in 2011-12 – Report
23
May '13
Textile Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry, released the 2011-12 Farm & Fiber Report. The overall findings demonstrate that organic cotton production dropped 8% from last year.

This drop is much less dramatic than the staggering 37% drop in 2010-11. Half of the organic cotton-growing countries reported increased production.

The report, Textile Exchange’s seventh, provides unique data, trends and analysis of organic cotton production, as well as annual snapshots of other cotton sustainability initiatives in order to provide a broad perspective on cotton agriculture.

The report highlights important calls to action for brands and retailers – specifically, once they commit to utilizing more organic cotton, brands and retailers need to examine their sourcing models and work to build consumer awareness of the benefits of buying organic.

This year’s findings indicate that the organic cotton market is beginning to stabilize after a wild ride of extreme growth from 2006-2010 and a big drop in 2011. Another indication that the market is settling is that the total land area dedicated to organic cotton has remained fairly stable with only a 2.4% decrease from last year.

This could, in part, be attributed to an increased effort by brands to study their supply chains and seek out the most updated and vetted sourcing data. Organizations downloaded the Farm & Fiber Report immediately after it was posted and more than 60% of these organizations reported plans to increase their use of organic cotton in the coming two to three years, further supporting the stabilization theme.

Growth Worldwide

While overall market numbers are not dramatic, some countries showed interesting growth and change patterns. For example, the report shows huge production increases in Tanzania (153% growth) and Nicaragua (190% growth).

Overall, Africa saw 103% growth from last year. It is no surprise that India is the world’s biggest producer again this year, now five years straight. In fact, 74% of the world’s organic cotton comes from India. Half of the countries producing organic cotton saw an increase, including Turkey which ranks second.

Civil Unrest and Drought Affect Volumes

Syria, the country reported as the second biggest producer last year, is out of the numbers mix as civil unrest meant that production estimates were not available and there is currently no fiber for export. This situation also makes future forecasting difficult because no one knows when the situation in Syria may change or improve.

Another country facing difficult issues is the United States, due to drought. 90% of US-grown organic cotton comes from the state of Texas, which saw devastating drought in the last year, hurting all US cotton growers. Droughts in Latin America (Paraguay and Brazil) were also damaging to production.

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