Spinning Review

Global study finds U.S. COTTON is preferred

Research Background

In the Spring of 2017, Cotton Council International (CCI) reached out to mills and manufacturers around the world to gauge perceptions of U.S. cotton compared to cotton from other markets. In May and June of 2019, CCI conducted a follow-up to this survey.

The 2019 survey was conducted by a third party research firm who contacted 243 mill and manufacturer representatives to gain insight into their purchase decisions, as well as perceptions of U.S. cotton. Representatives surveyed came from 17 countries including the six largest purchasing regions in the world: Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, China, Latin America and Central Europe.

Quality remains most important factor in purchasing cotton

Respondents were first asked to rate the most important factors in their cotton purchase decisions. Similar to 2017, quality (88% top two factors) and price (81%) were two of the top purchase factors for global mills and manufacturers, with both increasing in importance.

But in 2019, overall satisfaction (83%) with the product and contamination (81%) became significantly more important factors, with each exceeding 80%. Other factors with major gains since 2017 included maximizing efficiency (74%), sustainability (60%) and lead times (59%).

Sustainability gains importance with brands and retailers

The increasing importance of sustainability to mills and manufacturers is being driven by the push for sustainability by their customers, global brands and retailers.

When asked to describe how important various factors were to these customers, sustainability was important to 83% and traceability to 76%.

U.S. Cotton is significantly preferred globally

Mills and manufacturers globally continue to prefer U.S. cotton significantly. Over half of global mills and manufacturers surveyed prefer U.S. cotton, nearly four times the level of any other country.

U.S. Cotton is preferred because of trust and reliability

The survey asked mill and manufacturer representatives about the reputation of U.S. cotton compared to growths from the next four largest cotton exporting areas—Brazil, Australia, India and Africa.

Respondents held more positive perceptions of U.S. cotton than any other growth for “trustworthy,” “reliable” and “respected.” U.S. and Australian cotton were far preferred for “high quality” and “low contamination.”


U.S. cotton remains the leader around the world despite the rapidly changing environment for cotton trade. The positive reputation compared to other growths from other regions explains why mills and manufacturers prefer U.S. cotton and why the United States is by far the largest exporter of cotton fiber. While trade tariffs and other barriers currently influence the industry, U.S. cotton’s reputation as The Cotton The World Trusts helps to maintain its market leadership.

Anees Mahmood Khawaja, Mahmood Group

We are working with COTTON USA and very happily doing it for probably more than 15 years now.  As we know cotton is a commodity business, so partnerships are what matter here. It’s somebody that you trust with regards to traceability, somebody you trust with regards to sustainability, transparency. And this is it.  The products coming out of U.S. cotton are always more reliable.  I’ve been taught that there is no cotton in the world which is contamination free, but the U.S. cotton is probably the closest you can get to it. 

We plan to further go into U.S. cotton just because of the contamination element.  One of the most important benefits is that when you buy U.S. cotton you can actually know what you are buying in terms of the quality, the specifications.

So I’m not the technical guy to run my plant, but from experience I know that my team would always prefer to run U.S. cotton over any other crop. Because of , again the trust part. They know what they’re doing.  And I think the most import part is if there’s a problem they would there to sort it out. So that does matter.  And then having COTTON USA always there.

That’s a lot of value that brings in. We’ve got conferences happening in Hong Kong, we’ve got customer, buyers meet ups. Nobody else does that and this is what matters. This is where the partnership comes along.


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