Meeting The Objectives

Entering the 2007 season, Cotton Incorporated had six major objectives, said J. Berrye Worsham, President and CEO.

Variety Improvement

A major initiative of the cotton industry. Making long- and short-term decisions is a fact of life, but for the cotton industry to be successful, the focus has to be much more on the long term. And that is the purpose of Cotton Incorporated’s Variety Improvement Initiative.
“At Cotton Incorporated, we’re very fortunate to (be able to have the flexibility) to look more at the long-term challenges,” said Dr. Kater Hake, Vice President, Agricultural Research.
One of the long-term goals is improvements in cotton varieties. “What I’d like to do it think about variety improvement as a long-term cornerstone of cotton’s competitiveness – not only in yield, but also in consumer demand,” Hake said.
Hake said it could take up to 15 years to move new varieties with new traits through development and commercial approval. “It’s a four to seven year process just to test these new traits for regulatory approval,” he explained. “It’s a very slow process and seed companies have to respond to (demand) signals quite a bit into the future.”
That would include projecting well into the future what fiber quality is best suited for the most popular spinning method at a precise moment. “China’s demand has increased dramatically, and they have added a tremendous amount of ring-spinning,” said Hake. “So we have gone from being focused on ring, to rotor and back to ring. Those (market) signals occurred very rapidly and have encouraged breeding programs to shift focus in response.”

  1. Improve farm profitability through research,
  2. Develop programs to differentiate U.S. cotton in the world market,
  3. Meet the challenges facing cotton by other fibers in key markets,
  4. Enhance Cotton Incorporated’s global presence as a voice for cotton,
  5. Continue Cotton Incorporated’s connection with the U.S. consumer with positive messages,
  6. And enhance environmental/sustainability research and communications to both consumers and the industry.

“The 2007 activities that went with each of these six objectives could literally take up hours in discussions – which is what we just completed a few weeks ago at Cotton Incorporated’s annual meeting,” said Worsham.

“We have developed and or implemented new technologies for denim – cotton’s largest market – as well as in performance apparel – a market cotton has lost to synthetic fibers,” Worsham said. “We are excited about new processes developed at Cotton Incorporated that greatly improve cotton’s ability to wick away moisture like the ‘Dry-Fit’ products that use synthetic fibers.”

Worsham said Cotton Incorporated is in confidential trials with a major sportswear brand to become more competitive in that ever-growing market.

“In denim, we can now make 100% cotton denim products that stretch, and 100% cotton water-resistant denim,” he added.

Sustainability

“Sustainability was a major focus for Cotton Incorporated,” Worsham said. “When I speak of sustainability, I am referring to environmental issues. Sustainability can either be an opportunity, or a competitive disadvantage to U.S. cotton, depending on how we deal with it.”

Opportunities in China

“There are hundreds of millions of children and adults that are coming out of poverty and they will demand better food, better textiles, more garments. There’s a huge opportunity to supply that with cotton. Cotton is the fiber we want them to wear; cotton is the fiber they want to wear. Most of the children in this picture are wearing cotton. This is a very long-term opportunity.” – Dr. Kater Hake

Worsham said the problem with sustainability continues to be the considerable amount of misinformation related to cotton. “Our objective is to be straight forward,” he explained. “We want to continue to research, develop data and communicate cotton’s improvements – and U.S. cotton in particular – in sustainability to both consumers and to industry.

“If the day comes when eco-issues are important in the consumer buying process for apparel and home textiles, we want cotton positioned as the ‘eco-choice’ for consumers. And we want cotton as the gold standard for sustainable production.

Captions:

J. Berrye Worsham

Dr. Kater Hake

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