GOODBYE 2020: Promoting “The Cotton The World Trusts”

Ricky Clarke, III

In 2020, Cotton Council International (CCI), the National Cotton Council’s export promotion arm, promoted U.S. cotton as the “The Cotton The World Trusts” in more than 50 countries under its COTTON USA trademark, despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

CCI pivoted its strategies and took its communications and events online to help drive export growth of U.S. cotton fiber, yarn and other cotton products. Participants were informed on U.S. cotton’s technical advantages, networking platforms were created for buyers/sellers of U.S. cotton, and U.S. cotton’s sustainability was promoted, with an ultimate goal of boosting U.S. cotton sales. These COTTON USA events led mills to expect purchasing an additional 1.6 million bales of U.S. cotton, estimated at nearly $436 million.

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CCI’s annual COTTON DAY celebrations went entirely virtual. More than 3,000 customers throughout the supply chain attended the virtual COTTON DAY celebrations in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, China, Turkey and India. These events included keynote speakers, local panel discussions, U.S. exporter networking meeting booths, fashion shows and a Cotton Exhibition Hall featuring COTTON USA SOLUTIONS, the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, Cotton Incorporated, Supima and Oritain.

Post-event surveys showed that 97% of participants were satisfied with the overall Cotton Day event, 95% believed U.S. cotton was better quality than cotton from other regions and 89% agreed they are likely to purchase U.S. cotton.

During COTTON DAYS, CCI officially launched COTTON USA SOLUTIONS, the industry’s first-of-its-kind technical consultancy program to help mills and manufacturers achieve greater productivity, process efficiency and gain more profit by showing them how to use U.S. cotton to drive their business. The program is guided by a consulting team of mill/spinning experts from around the world with more than 200 years of collective global experience and expertise in all types of mills and cotton processing.

CCI also continues to place a major emphasis on sustainability, including building awareness about the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol, a program that is bringing quantifiable goals and verifiable measurement to responsibly-grown cotton production and is driving continuous improvement in key sustainability metrics. A growing list of companies, including more than 100 mills and manufacturers and several brands and retailers, already have joined the Trust Protocol as members to verify their sustainability stories.

CCI also joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and used the group’s Higg Index, a sustainability measurement suite of tools, to drive environmental and social responsibility throughout its supply chain. With this membership, CCI joined more than 250 global brands, retailers, manufacturers and other organizations collectively committed to improving supply chain sustainability in the apparel, footwear and textile industries.

Other activities this year included:

  • Celebrating the second annual World Cotton Day in October by putting U.S. cotton centerstage at a Latin America-based virtual event focused on sustainability. World Cotton Day in Latin America reached 8.37 million people.
  • Partnering with 11 U.S. cotton textile mills through the COTTON USA Sourcing Program to develop, grow and maintain export markets for U.S. manufactured cotton products.

Whether virtual or in-person, COTTON USA promotional events in 2021 will continue to educate mills, manufacturers, brands and retailers on why U.S. cotton is “The Cotton The World Trusts” to drive export growth for U.S. cotton.

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