Participants who attended the 2023 COTTON USA™ Orientation Tour expect to purchase an additional 170,000 bales of U.S. cotton, valued at approximately $64 million. The Orientation Tour is funded in part by the Foreign Market Development fund (FMD) and U.S. cotton industry contributions.
Twenty-eight textile mill executives from 15 different countries participated in the COTTON USA™ Orientation Tour held October 2 – 6, 2023. Collectively, these companies are projected to consume 5.7 million bales of cotton in 2023, with U.S. market share accounting for only 50%. The Orientation Tour aims to educate this influential audience on the advantages of U.S. cotton and to facilitate the development of strong business connections with U.S. cotton industry representatives. This, in turn, should solidify U.S. cotton as their preferred fiber, ultimately leading to increased U.S. cotton exports in the future.
The Orientation Tour targets up-and-coming foreign textile executives, and for many, the activity marks their first time visit to a cotton-producing country, which presents an opportunity to positively shape their opinion of U.S. cotton and how it compares to cotton grown elsewhere. The weeklong tour visited each of the major cotton-growing regions in the United States where the participants gained insights into the research, technology, innovation, and sustainability initiatives that are major strengths of U.S. cotton, setting it apart from its competitors. A highlight of the tour was the group’s visit to a cotton farm and gin where they observed first-hand the exceptional quality of the crop and the commitment of U.S. cotton producers to grow clean, sustainable cotton. After attending, 100% of the participants feel U.S. cotton quality is better than cotton grown in other regions.
At each stop, the participants also had opportunities to network and establish valuable relationships with U.S. cotton industry representatives from the National Cotton Council (NCC), the American Cotton Shippers Association (ACSA), America’s Cotton Marketing Cooperatives (AMCOT), American Cotton Producers (ACP), Cotton Incorporated, and Supima. Participants were actively encouraged to suggest ways the U.S. cotton industry can enhance its competitiveness in world trade and learned how past Orientation Tours have resulted in positive improvements in the U.S. cotton industry. These collaborative discussions not only promote a sense a partnership between the two groups, but also build confidence in U.S. cotton early in the careers of these important foreign textile executives. 91% of the participants agreed the Orientation Tour provided opportunities to develop new business relationships and as a result of attending, 91% expect to purchase additional U.S. cotton in the future.
After the tour, one participant commented: “the Orientation Tour provided me with a myriad of insights about how the U.S. cotton business really works. Talking to U.S. cotton farmers and traders helped me understand why no other cotton can compete with U.S. cotton!”