How can companies judge progress in their sustainability efforts – both year-on-year and in comparison with their peers? The Preferred Fiber & Materials (PFM) Benchmark provides a robust structure to help companies systematically measure, manage and integrate a preferred fiber and materials strategy into mainstream business operations, to compare progress, and to transparently communicate performance and progress to stakeholders.

Textile Exchange is proud to be a member of

2018 Textile Sustainability Conference

Plenary session: Persuasion and data – how to influence at a high level

Moderator: Liesl Truscott, Textile Exchange

Panelists from left to right: Helen Crowley, Kering, Nanda Bergstein, Tchibo, Charline Ducas, C&A, Cara Charcon, Patagonia, Alfred Vernis, Inditex

Panelists discussed the importance of fibers and materials to business strategy, how to make a business case through benchmarking, and convince others of the business imperative, including c-suite and staff colleagues.

It’s time to take bold action now, we owe this to our children, to the planet, and to the people who work in our supply chains. So let’s work together and be accountable to our progress. Let’s commit to sourcing raw materials with integrity and fairness. Let’s honour the value of people, energy, water and the soil. Let’s work together to really create positive impact in the world, because this is the task for our generation.

We only have this one world and if we don’t take care of it, who will?

– Nanda Bergstein, Tchibo

David Hobson, Nga Rua Station, New Zealand. Photo: Wools of New Zealand

Three Years of Benchmarking

Heading in the right direction

The PFM Benchmark has evolved over three years of operation into the largest peer-to-peer comparison initiative in the sector. 111 companies participated in 2018, an increase of 106% since 2015, with average index scores increasing from 49 to 56 since the start of the full program.

Third year of benchmarking following a successful pilot

Growth in participation now 111 companies
(87 Benchmark, 24 Consumption Tracker)

Improvement in scores year-on-year

Spotlight on the Founders Club

Of the 87 companies who completed the benchmark survey this year, 43 have completed it three years in a row. These 43 companies formed the Founders Club, outperforming their peers by 12.5%, with ALDI, Burberry and Woolworths recording the biggest improvements. (If we take into consideration all 111 participants, 81 percent have continued in the program in one form or the other for the past three years.)

43 companies (60% of the original 71) participated consecutively across 3 years

The Founders Club are
outperforming the rest

Biggest movers over 3 years

Barometer of Progress

The PFM Index barometer provides a scale to measure performance. In 2018, the proportion of companies in each performance banding improved again, slightly. The biggest move was between “developing” and “establishing” indicating continued movement along the scale.


In 2018, we’ve seen an overall increase across all Sections of the Index. Corporate Strategy is still ahead of the rest of the Index, while Consumer Engagement remains the biggest opportunity for improvement.

The PFM Index average is the average of all participant scores. It is calculated from Section 1 scores plus the average score for Sections 2, 3 and 4 for a company’s top three performing modules. All scores are out of 100.

The Index average moved up 3 points, from 53 out of 100 in 2017, to 56 in 2018. Since 2016, the Index average improved by 14.2%. See Sector Feedback Report for breakdown by sub-sector.

A special thank you and CONGRATULATIONS to all this year’s 111 Benchmarkers. Your willingness to join us on this journey, publicly disclose your company’s participation, and commitment to improving makes you sector leaders. Your confidential feedback reports are available now from the PFM Portal. Those who didn’t participate in 2018 can access a sample Company Feedback Report here. The complete Sector and Sub-sector Feedback Report is available here.

To be part of the PFM Benchmark helps Veja’s team to understand and recognize all the work Veja has been doing by adopting 100% organic cotton in its products and by having built its own supply chain for this crucial material used in the industry. The program also assists the team to comprehend what has been done in relation to other materials and to encourage Veja’s team to reach a more sustainable supply chain in the next coming years.

– François Ghislain Morillion, Veja

Organic-Fairtrade Cotton Farmer, Brazil. Photo: C&A Foundation


All benchmark questions & consumption volumes. Feedback report includes index scores, rankings, and a gap analysis.

Consumption Tracker

Alternative, lighter option for companies wishing to report progress towards consumption targets.


Brands commit to increase use of rPET by at least 25% by 2020.
Find out more.

Sustainable Cotton Challenge

Brands commit to sustainably sourcing 100% of their cotton by 2025. Find out more.

The PFM Benchmark is managed through a portal called “Probench” developed by our software partners, 73Bit Ltd.

This Program is kindly sponsored by:


Quick Links

About organic cotton

Organic cotton is cotton that is produced and certified to organic agricultural standards.

Learn more


Preferred Fiber & Material Round Tables


2017 Market reports

The 2017 Preferred Fiber & Materials Report and the Organic Cotton Market Report are joined by the "Insider" Series.

Read more

PFM Benchmark

The Preferred Fiber & Materials (PFM) Benchmark helps companies measure, manage and integrate a PFM strategy.

Read more


A framework for assessing the environmental, social & economic impacts of organic cotton agriculture.

Learn more


A selection of some of the key terms and abbreviations used in the industry.