Cotton Council International (CCI), the National Cotton Council’s export promotion arm that promotes U.S. cotton in more than 50 countries under its COTTON USA™ trademark, oversaw activities that showcased U.S. cotton’s quality, sustainability, transparency, premium value and innovation.
CCI ramped up global initiatives aimed at making U.S. cotton the preferred fiber for mills, manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers. By commanding a value-added premium, CCI delivered profitability across the U.S. cotton industry and drove export growth of fiber, yarn and other cotton products. The total value of U.S. cotton fiber and value-added U.S. cotton exports was approximately $5.6 billion.
In a recent study, the COTTON USA Mark was proven to add value for consumers. Even more significantly, respondents indicated that they would be willing to pay more for a product with the COTTON USA Mark rather than a generic 100 percent cotton logo. CCI signed 136 new COTTON USA licensees, for a total of 714 licensed mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers that consumed 9.7 million U.S. cotton bales.
Buyers and sellers throughout the global textile supply chain conducted more than 2,100 meetings at COTTON USA events aimed at increasing exports of U.S. cotton. Participation in COTTON USA events led to reported sales of 54.5 million pounds of U.S. cotton, valued at approximately $38.1 million. Thanks to COTTON USA events, textile mill buyers said they would increase their purchases of U.S. cotton by an additional 240.8 million pounds of U.S. cotton during the next year, an estimated $175.6 million increase in sales.
Increasing awareness about why U.S. cotton is “The Cotton The World Trusts” was a critically important facet of CCI’s promotional strategy -- as COTTON USA committed to providing educational forums that benefitted mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers.
To help facilitate its goals, COTTON USA™ introduced a new website. Translated into 12 languages, it offered mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers economic data, global supplier search capabilities along with new developments in cotton sustainability, quality, transparency and innovation. The website is focused on serving business needs, and newly built to connect, educate and inspire the entire cotton supply chain.
COTTON USA conducted events in the United States and in key export markets to provide forums for the U.S. cotton industry to interact directly with customers and boost U.S. cotton sales. Quality conferences, executive delegations and seminars with Pakistani, Chinese, Turkish and Indian textile mill leaders strengthened the U.S. cotton industry’s commitment to supplying “The Cotton The World Trusts.” A special trade mission from Bangladesh and an orientation tour enabled key U.S. cotton customers to tour the U.S. Cotton Belt and see how the world’s highest quality, cleanest fiber was grown sustainably.
COTTON USA also conducted two studies to prove that U.S. cotton is worth a premium price because of its superior efficiency during spinning and knitting. These studies were presented to nearly 60 mills in six countries to demonstrate how using U.S. cotton leads to better products at an overall lower cost.
COTTON USA is focusing on new and innovative ideas to increase U.S. cotton exports. In 2017, COTTON USA launched its new “WHAT’S NEW IN COTTON™” initiative with the objective of inspiring the target audience to think about the many opportunities in U.S. cotton and, ultimately, to specify more U.S. cotton in their products. This initiative was introduced at the Premiere Vision show in Paris and at the Shanghai Inter-textile show – resulting in heightened interest in U.S. cotton.
CCI launched the COTTON USA Mill Exchange Program in Southeast Asia, where spinning mills in Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia opened their doors to competitors and shared how they were successfully using U.S. cotton to increase profits. These mills were expected to purchase an additional 32.7 million pounds of U.S. cotton, valued at $23.8 million. CCI also launched its first digital marketing campaign directed at a business to business audience, using advanced targeting techniques to reach key audiences of mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers with new content on the value of using/specifying U.S. cotton.
One of the most important premium values that COTTON USA offered was its facilitation of business connections across the supply chain. “Cotton Days” in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam brought together COTTON USA licensees and potential business partners while positioning U.S. cotton as the fiber of choice globally.
COTTON USA Sourcing Fairs in Hong Kong and Cancun, Mexico, showed mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers – with a huge global sales network – why U.S. cotton fiber and yarns should be key ingredients in manufacturing high quality textile products. The Fairs also provided immediate sourcing assistance.
At international trade shows, such as Premiére Vision in Paris and Intertextile in Shanghai, CCI, Cotton Incorporated and Supima collaborated to exhibit jointly in one large cotton pavilion and showcase WHAT’S NEW IN COTTON™,” including innovations in technologies, fabric blends, performance, design, and fashion.
The U.S. cotton industry, in fact, is represented by the strategic partnership of the NCC, CCI, Cotton Incorporated and Supima, which work seamlessly throughout the supply chain to provide advanced cotton technology, strategies for improved cotton product performance and sales-building expertise to mills, manufacturers and retailers worldwide. All four organizations actively collaborate with the industry to ensure open access to the latest innovations that help ensure that cotton is a sustainable ingredient in tomorrow’s garments and home textiles.
Throughout the year, CCI received invaluable support from the NCC; Cotton Incorporated; the American Cotton Shippers Association; the American Cotton Marketing Cooperatives; California Cotton Alliance; the Committee for Cotton Research; ICE Futures U.S.; Plains Cotton Growers, Inc.; Southern Cotton Growers, Inc.; Supima; USDA; U.S. cotton yarn and textile manufacturers; and COTTON USA Mark licensees worldwide.