Opinion: Building Fiber Demand in the Textile Industry

With proper demand, growth in fiber consumption could average annually around 3-4% annually.

Cotton is a valuable fiber in the mix for the textile sector. According to inputs from global brands, the industry can consume up to 31 million metric tons of cotton, said Robert van de Kerkhof, Chief Commercial Officer of Lenzing AG, Austria.


About 700 delegates from over 30 countries discussed the state of the fiber industry and its sustainability initiatives during the 58th annual Dornbirn Fiber Congress, recently held in Dornbirn, Austria.

Opinion: Building Fiber Demand in the Textile Industry

Dr. Seshadri Ramkumar (center) with Friedrich Weninger of the Austrian Fibers Institute (left), and Robert van de Kerkhof, Lenzing AG (right).


While the global consumption of cotton has remained flat at 28 million metric tons, there is potential for additional demand of 3 million metric tons. Answering a question about the competition between regenerated fibers and cotton, van de Kerkhof emphasized the need for all sorts of fibers. There is no competition between Lyocell – a cotton-based fiber – and cotton, he stressed.

With an annual production capacity of 300,000 metric tons, Lyocell needs a friendly partnership with sustainable fibers. Lenzing will have an additional 100,000 metric tons of Lyocell for the textile industry, thanks to a new manufacturing plant in Thailand that will be online by the end of 2020.

Van de Kerkhof appreciated the sustainability efforts undertaken by the global cotton industry but noted there is more work to do. He highlighted a few initiatives such as those by the Brazilian cotton sector, which is making planned efforts to develop in regions where there is good rainfall.

According to van de Kerkhof, new products can have blends of cotton with Lyocell to enhance attributes like strength. Cotton Incorporated is also promoting the concept of developing cotton rich blends to exploit the benefits of different fiber blends. New opportunities are emerging for cotton such as Lenzing’s Lyocell fibers “REFIBRA.”

Cotton for use in technical textiles – in both virgin and processed forms – are being utilized by many industries these days. Chennai, India-based WellGro United has partnered with a textile manufacturer in South India to deliver cotton for technical textiles.