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Cotton Day China Showcases Commitment to Quality, Innovation and Sustainability

China & Hong Kong

Cotton Council International (CCI) held COTTON DAY 2022 CHINA, a virtual event featuring the theme “Your Partner for Prosperity,” for more than 300 textile mills, brands and retailers, industry associations and trade media. CCI showcased the U.S. cotton industry’s continuous commitment to quality, innovation and sustainability.

As a result of attending, participants expect to purchase an additional 439,916 bales of U.S. cotton, and 18 companies indicated they are interested in learning more about becoming a member of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol. The U.S. cotton industry looks forward to building stronger partnerships with all stakeholders in China to drive continuous improvements in sustainability and create win-win opportunities in the future.

CCI President Carlos Garcia said in his welcome speech that the pandemic has brought challenges to the global cotton industry supply chain and that the U.S. cotton industry very much appreciates its partnership with Chinese textile industry in recent years. Other speakers introduced how U.S. cotton growers are committed to sustainable cotton production and reducing water usage, greenhouse gas emissions, energy consumption and soil loss, as well as improving land use efficiency and increasing soil carbon to bring quantifiable and measurable sustainability goals to brands and retailers.

Lashonda McLeod Harper, director of the Agricultural Trade Office at the U.S. Embassy in China, pointed out in her opening speech, “The United States and China have a long-standing and important cotton trade relationship. As the leading supplier, United States cotton exports to China exceeded 1.3 billion dollars last year, and I believe this is a significant achievement in the bilateral cotton trade.” At the same time, she recognized that CCI plays a significant role in promoting U.S. cotton in the China market and builds a communication platform for China and U.S. cotton industries.

Bruce Atherley, executive director of CCI, presen the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® and COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol drives continuous improvements in sustainable cotton production and transparency throughout the supply chain. During the second year, the Trust Protocol doubled the number of U.S. cotton growers in the program with an estimated 1.1 million acres enrolled. A total of more than 700 mills and manufacturers from more than 20 countries and 40 brands and retailers have joined the Trust Protocol. Lastly, Atherley introduced COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™, a complimentary cotton technical consultancy for COTTON USA™ licensees and Trust Protocol members to improve profitability.

2022 is a year of challenges and changes, and the global cotton market and the entire cotton industry are also ushering in new trends and opportunities. Dr. Jody Campiche, vice president of economics and policy analysis for the NCC, noted in her keynote speech that the production costs and input supplies will be key factors in acreage decisions, particularly with higher input prices and supply chain disruptions. The USDA survey showed that U.S. producers intend to plant 12.2 million cotton acres this spring, up by 9% on 2021’s figures. Upland cotton is at 12.1 million, up 8.7% from 2021, while ELS cotton represents a 38.6% increase due to a new record in high ELS prices. However, larger areas on cotton farms do not necessarily bring higher yields due to weather. The high cotton prices, the downturn in the global economic activity and the increasing political tensions might reduce cotton demand and bring downward pressure on cotton prices in 2022.

Melinda Shou, consultant of agricultural value chains at South Pole, shared her views and advice on what action peers in the supply chain can take to “walk the talk” regarding environmental sustainability. The impact of the textile sector on climate change is significant. To keep the global temperature rise to 1.5°C, the textile industry would have to cut emissions by 45% by 2030.

“Brands and companies should focus on reducing emissions, develop and implement strategies, especially in reducing the carbon footprint of the company itself and outside the industry chain, and be transparent in what the company is doing and achieving,” Shou said.

U.S. cotton, which has verifiable and quantifiable advantages, is superior to other cottons of different origins in the global market. In his keynote speech, Roger Gilmartin, special consultant of CCI, explained several case studies that CCI did with outside independent consultants. These case studies showed that U.S. cotton can lower waste in the textile production process, have better yields and higher efficiencies as well as better quality of yarn, fabric and garments, and have a final lower cost per pound for the garments than using other cottons.