For the first time since 2019, Cotton Council International (CCI) hosted the Sourcing Fair, paid for in part by FMD funds, in Cancun, Mexico, which brought together representatives from different segments of the Western Hemisphere apparel supply chain to meet in-person, learn more about the advantages of U.S. cotton, and participate in pre-arranged meetings aimed at developing business connections and increasing sales of U.S. cotton rich products in the region. 112 executives attended the Sourcing Fair representing 8 U.S. yarn and textile mill companies, 35 Latin American textile/garment manufacturing companies, and 20 brands, retailer and corporate imagewear companies from the United States and Latin America. 100% of the participants were satisfied with the Sourcing Fair overall.
The Latin American region has a strong tradition of loyalty to U.S. cotton and is important not only for its consumption of U.S. cotton raw fiber, but also U.S. cotton manufactured yarns and fabrics. In MY 2020/21, the U.S. cotton industry exported a total of 2.4 million bale equivalents of cotton yarn, thread, and fabric, almost 80% of which was exported to the Latin American region, making it an extremely important market for U.S. yarn and textile manufacturers. At the same time, the region has seen an uptick in interest from U.S. brands and retailers who, given global shipment disruptions over the past few years, now recognize the advantages of proximity and are exploring more nearshoring opportunities.
While this presents an opportunity for U.S. cotton, U.S. market share in the region cannot be taken for granted. U.S. cotton competes not only with other growths of cotton, such as Brazil, Mexico, and West Africa, but also man-made fibers in the region. To maintain success, CCI activities in Latin America seek to differentiate U.S. cotton and one area where U.S. cotton outperforms its competitors is sustainability. U.S. brands and retailers demand sustainability and transparency from their supply chain partners. As they begin to look for partners in the region, it will be crucial to educate the textile and apparel sector on the need to understand and accurately measure their own sustainability impacts. The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® provides them with the tools they will need to effectively communicate their commitment to sustainability to these important customers.
During the Sourcing Fair, participants had an opportunity to learn more about how the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol® is setting a new standard in sustainable cotton production during the seminar portion of the event. Afterwards, 100% of the participants agreed they learned a lot about the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®. 4 brand/retailer companies and 15 Latin American textile/garment manufacturing companies indicated they were interested in becoming U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol members.
Participants also met privately with new and existing customers during pre-scheduled meetings to discuss business opportunities. Over 600 individual meetings were arranged during the two-day Sourcing Fair between the U.S. yarn and textile mills, Latin American textile/garment manufacturers, and brand/retailer and imagewear companies. As a result of these meetings, 94% of the Latin American textile/garment manufacturers expect to purchase additional U.S. cotton-rich products in the next year and 100% anticipate doing business with the brands and retailers in the next year. Future estimated sales are valued at $18 million worth of U.S. cotton-rich products and further demonstrates the impact business relationships created during the Sourcing Fair can have on increasing the amount of U.S. cotton in the Western Hemisphere apparel supply chain in the future.