One could make the case that the Q3 issue of Cotton International brings together the most important topic (sustainability) and the most important country (China) in all of the cotton universe.
Not only would I make that case, I would add that the two go hand-in-hand, and the global cotton and textile industries will be irreparably damaged if they don’t develop a lasting relationship with each other.
Much of the attention in recent years has been focused on price volatility and the incredible sequence of events that has turned the industry upside down since 2008.
But as challenging as it can be to safely navigate these turbulent stretches, markets have a way of regulating themselves over time, and prices – while still lower than many would like – have been relatively stable during the last few months.
Maintaining demand for cotton, on the other hand, requires our constant attention. It’s easier to destroy than to create, and demand destruction due to the perception that cotton is environmentally unfriendly would be, over the long run, a death sentence.
Meanwhile, China’s role as the heavyweight of the cotton industry is unquestioned, given its standing as the world’s top producer, consumer and importer. If not for the massive purchases made by the Chinese reserve this season, prices likely would have fallen much further than they did.
China has a bit of an image problem when it comes to envionmental issues, particularly related to pollution. But the country has made reducing its impact on the environment a high priority, and events like the one held by the Better Cotton Initiative in Shanghai are critical. Some of the world’s top retailers were in attendance, and they wanted to see progress on environmental initiatives. That’s what their customers demand, and they, in turn, demand it from their suppliers.
The cotton and textile industries have been through some rough times recently, so when two enormously important forces converge – and the outcome is a positive one, as this is – it’s cause for everyone to celebrate.