2019/20 was a record-setting year for organic cotton, with the largest volume of organic fiber harvested globally to-date, and growth is set to skyrocket in 2020/21.
Textile Exchange’s 2021 Organic Cotton Market Report, released today, shows that 2019/20 was a record-setting year, with the largest volume of organic cotton fiber harvested globally to-date. In total, 229,280 farmers grew 249,153 tonnes of organic cotton fiber on 588,425 hectares of certified organic land in 21 countries. This represents a four percent growth in fiber volume and is the fourth year in a row that organic cotton production has increased. Organic cotton accounted for almost one percent of the global cotton harvest that season.
Ranked by production, the top seven organic cotton-producing countries, which together account for 95 percent of global production, were India (50%), China (12%), Kyrgyzstan (12%), Turkey (10%), Tanzania (5%), Tajikistan (4%), and the U.S. (3%). Two new countries – Uzbekistan and Myanmar – joined the line-up of organic cotton producers in 2019/20, and at least another three countries are expected to join in the next few years. The biggest contributors to the global growth seen in 2019/20 were Tanzania and Kyrgyzstan, followed by Uganda, the U.S., Pakistan, India, and Turkey.
“The demand for organic cotton has been growing steadily, particularly the last four years,” says La Rhea Pepper, Textile Exchange Founder and CEO. “All signs point to increasing demand for organic cotton as brands expand their use of the fiber in their product lines in response to concerns over the textile industry’s impact on the environment and consumer demands for sustainable choices.”
India once again had the most land in conversion to organic, followed most closely by Turkey, Tajikistan, and Tanzania. At least 50,552 hectares of cotton land were in conversion to organic cotton in 2019/20. This is equivalent to eight percent of the total certified production area.
Organic cotton production is set to skyrocket in 2020/21, with an estimated 48% growth, stemming predominantly from India and Turkey. In India, this growth is largely a result of increased demand causing organic cotton prices to increase. This, in turn, makes it a more attractive option for farmers and is leading existing producers to dedicate a larger share of their certified organic land to growing cotton versus other crops. In Turkey, increased demand is also the main driver, but the growth is more a result of new producers starting up organic cotton production.
“Textile Exchange urges all brands to ‘plan for planting,’ including supporting the conversion years to ensure that organic will be available to meet their future needs,” says Textile Exchange Fiber Strategist, Rui Fontoura.
Besides revealing detailed production data at global, regional, and country levels, the report also covers current trends and priorities for the organic cotton sector, including discussions on current demand, regenerative agriculture, seed innovation, Covid-19, and the price vs. value paradigm. Impact is also a key feature, in line with Textile Exchange’s 2030 Climate+ goal, with spotlights on the key impact areas of climate, biodiversity, soil, and water.
The report is peppered with insightful quotes from the twenty-one “industry insiders” who were interviewed for the report as part of Textile Exchange’s Insider Series, highlighting how producers and companies are making a difference in textile sustainability.
Textile Exchange continues to gather information on the uptake of organic cotton as well as production, and appreciates the cooperation of all producers, brands, retailers, and other stakeholders in sharing usage and production information via our surveys. In addition, brands, retailers, manufacturers, and suppliers are invited to track their progress with organic cotton (and other preferred fiber and materials) by participating in the annual Material Change Index (MCI) survey (open through September; email: CFMB@TextileExchange.org). New this year are questions regarding product sales figures and forecasted demand through 2025 – information vital to understanding the market.
We also urge active participation in upcoming webinars on the topic as well as this fall’s Organic Cotton Round Table (OCRT) Summit, held in conjunction with our 2021 Textile Sustainability Conference in Dublin, Ireland, November 15-19. Join the OCRT to engage with others in the organic cotton community and stay up to date on the latest news and events on the OCRT Hub.
Textile Exchange is a global nonprofit that creates leaders in the sustainable fiber and materials industry. The organization develops, manages, and promotes a suite of leading industry standards as well as collects and publishes vital industry data and insights that enable brands and retailers to measure, manage, and track their use of preferred fiber and materials.
With a membership that represents leading brands, retailers, and suppliers, Textile Exchange has, for years, been positively impacting climate through accelerating the use of preferred fibers across the global textile industry and is now making it an imperative goal through its 2030 Strategy: Climate+. Under the Climate+ strategic direction, Textile Exchange will be the driving force for urgent climate action with a goal of 45% reduced CO2 emissions from textile fiber and material production by 2030. To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit TextileExchange.org. Follow us on Twitter at @TextileExchange.
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