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Director - communications and international relations Bremer Baumwollborse (Bremen Cotton Exchange)
The challenge for cotton is to be cheaper than manmade fibres
The Bremen Cotton Exchange works across 30 countries to promote the interests of everyone associated with the cotton supply chain. Elke Hortmeyer, director - communications and international relations of Bremer Baumwollborse (Bremen Cotton Exchange) discusses the current global cotton industry and the scope for organic cotton in the times ahead with Fibre2Fashion.com
What is the size of the global cotton industry? What is the percentage pie claimed by organic cotton?
The worldwide production of cotton will most likely reach about 24 million tonnes. The volume of organic cotton crop will be - to our estimates - not exceeding 130,000 tonnes or so. Therefore, the projected share is 0.5 per cent.
Ensuring that China has a resilient cotton supply chain is in the interest of the global textiles industry. Do you agree?
China is one of the largest cotton producers in the world, currently ranking second. For several seasons, the global cotton focus had been on the Chinese national cotton reserve; and this still has an impact on prices. Therefore, the global textiles industry is certainly very interested in the future development of the cotton sector in China.
World cotton prices are predicted to fall in 2015, and consumption is expected to go up. Can we expect cotton consumption to grow as much as synthetic fibres on a global level?
The cotton industry has faced a lot of challenges due to price development and strong competition in the market from other fibres. This will certainly last. The requirements of the textiles industry are continuously growing, but cotton is able to match most of these requirements. We have an innovative and brave research environment. At the same time, more raw materials will be needed for a growing population. Even if you rarely think about them, farm and catwalk are pretty closely connected. In contrast to manmade fibres, millions of farmers make a living from cotton production. We should never forget that cotton has a significant meaning in the agricultural sector, is natural, important for crop rotation and is biodegradable. These factors are not beatable in any discussion about sustainability.
How are international cotton prices expected to behave in the coming years? How can farmers sustain their margins in the international community?
It is always difficult to answer the price question, and we actually can only give ideas. However, the challenge is to be cheaper than manmade fibres, and at the same time, to fulfil farmer's expectations so that cotton production is attractive as well as competitive.
Cotton has a severe competitor - manmade fibres. It is and will be of high relevance for farmers to cooperate with breeders and to listen to the market - what does the textiles industry want, what will the relevant cotton properties be in future and how can farmers and breeders meet the demand?
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