Participants who attended Cotton Day events in Northeast Asia in May of 2022 expect to purchase an additional 630,000 bales of U.S. cotton, valued at approximately $370 million. Cotton Days are funded in part by the Market Access Program (MAP).
The Northeast Asian region is an important market for U.S. cotton, with South Korea (12th), Taiwan (13th), and Japan (16th) consistently ranking in the top twenty of destinations for U.S. cotton exports. At the same time, the region exerts a large influence on global sourcing decisions through investments made outside of the region. Korean mills and manufactures are heavily invested in operations in Southeast Asia and Latin America while 75% of total Taiwanese mill capacity operates outside of the country, mostly in Vietnam, China, Mexico, and Africa. Cotton Council International (CCI) activities target key mill and manufacturer decision makers in the region, leveraging those relationships for the benefit of U.S. cotton in other important manufacturing hubs around the world.
CCI also engages with brands and retailers in Northeast Asia who are becoming increasingly important sourcing influencers in the region. While U.S. cotton’s share of regional imports has remained stable over the past five years, averaging 56%, cotton has lost overall market share to manmade fibers. CCI activities in the region promote programs such as the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol™ to demonstrate U.S. cotton’s superior sustainability credentials and help offset losses due to manmade fiber demand. These brand and retailer partnerships also help reinforce demand for U.S. cotton downstream by creating business opportunities for mill and manufacturers in the region.
A total of 665 brand/retailer and mill/manufacturer participants attended this year’s Cotton Day events in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. The carefully curated program highlighted the growing need for sustainability in the fashion and textile industry and emphasized the individual impact each member of the supply chain has on achieving this objective. Participants heard from industry leading experts on the environmental footprint associated with the fashion and textile industry and the steps their companies can take to be a part of the solution, including making smart choices regarding their raw material inputs. Participants also heard directly from U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol™ producers on their farm-level sustainability initiatives, relating to water usage, energy usage, and greenhouse gas emissions. After the event, 77% of the participants believed the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol™ is better than other sustainable fiber programs and 45 companies are interested in becoming members of the program.
Although companies understand the importance of sustainability, there is always concern it will come at the expense of increased business costs. To address this, the Cotton Day events included information on COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™, the world’s leading cotton consultancy, which demonstrates how companies can increase efficiency, productivity, and ultimately profitability through U.S. cotton usage. Participants were also presented with case studies which prove that using U.S. cotton in garment manufacturing creates a smaller carbon footprint than cotton from other regions. This is a win-win situation for U.S. cotton customers. By using U.S. cotton, not only are they able to produce superior products, but their overall costs are lower, while adding less damage to the environment. After the event, 89% of participants believe U.S. cotton quality is better than cotton from other regions and 80% are likely to purchase U.S. cotton or U.S. cotton products. 79% were satisfied with the event overall and 89% are likely to recommend future Cotton Day events to their colleagues.