Brands wishing to incorporate organic cotton into their supply chains may find there isn’t enough to meet their needs. Demand for organic cotton has increased dramatically in recent years to the point that, without a plan to convert more conventional acreage to organic acreage, brands may not be able to ensure a future supply.
Brands wanting to secure future supplies of organic cotton need to send clear demand signals to farmers so that farmers can make the switch to “in-conversion” or “transitional” cotton and feel confident that there will be a market for it.
Establishing an organic management system requires an interim period, known in different countries as either the “in-conversion” or “transitional” period (hereafter “in-conversion”). This varies in time based on the organic standard being applied but is up to 36 months. During that time, farmers implement all the practices required to achieve organic certification (including not using inputs and practices prohibited in organic farming) and are audited annually by certification bodies as per international organic agriculture standards. In-conversion cotton is the output of the farms during this conversion period.
Through the Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) Textile Exchange is working with the global organic cotton community to expand the production of organic cotton and facilitate the journey to get there. Click here to join the OCRT community.
In-Conversion to Organic Cotton: The Basics
This brief document provides background information on what in-conversion cotton is – including discussion of standards, fair pricing, and claims that may be made. Download here.
The Organic Content Standard (OCS) is an international voluntary standard that sets requirements for third-party certification of certified organic input and chain of custody. The goal of the OCS is to increase organic agriculture production.
In January 2021 Textile Exchange released guidance that permits material which is in-conversion to be verified under the OCS, including from OCS-recognized organic standards – such as the U.S. National Organic Program – that do not recognize in-conversion material. However, public facing claims for in-conversion products may not reference the OCS at this time.
Certification to Textile Exchange standards is performed by independent, third-party certification bodies (CBs). The searchable list shows the CBs that are currently licensed to conduct certification to Textile Exchange standards, including the OCS.
Examples of General Marketing Language
The following are links to brands that are successfully incorporating in-conversion cotton into their products, introducing the public to the concept of and promising them an organic future.