Sydney, Australia – Australian cotton growers formed part of a Cotton Australia delegation that pitched the modern Australian cotton industry’s story of responsible and sustainable production directly to some of the world’s largest brands and retailers.
The event – held at the Australian Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey –was attended by companies that together consume more than 5 times the volume of the average Australian cotton crop, every year.
Companies represented include Nike, H&M, Tommy Hilfiger, C&A, VF (brands include Lee, Wrangler, Timberland, The North Face, Vans, Nautica), Adidas, IKEA and Levi Strauss.
Cotton Australia CEO, Adam Kay, says that cotton businesses and consumers are increasingly demanding responsibly produced fibres to meet their corporate social responsibilities and respond to growing consumer interest in product provenance.
“The event at the Australian Consulate in Turkey gave our growers a global platform to share their stories of ethical, responsible and sustainable production back here in Australia,” Mr Kay says.
“It is hugely powerful for these major brands to learn about our industry directly from the Australian cotton growers who produce some of the world’s highest yielding and highest quality cotton.”
“These connections between growers and end-users are part of Cotton Australia’s Cotton to Market strategy, aimed at positioning Australian cotton in the world fibre market.”
“The Australian cotton industry is now part of a global network working towards improving cotton’s reputation globally,” Mr Kay says.
The Australian delegation comprised of Goondiwindi grower and Cotton Australia Deputy Chair – Simon Corish, St George grower and Cotton Australia Board member – Hamish McIntyre, Cotton Australia Cotton to Market Project Lead – Brooke Summers, and Auscott Marketing Manager, Arthur Spellson.
While in Turkey, the delegation also attended the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) Members’ Meeting, held from June 9-10, 2015. The annual event brings together participants from all sectors of the cotton supply chain – producing countries, brands and retailers, spinners and manufacturers as well as civil society groups.
One of the main topics discussed at the BCI meeting was increasing demand for BCI cotton at brand and retailer level, and ensuring that this signal is heard back through the supply chain to growers.
Cotton Australia signed a formal partnership agreement with BCI on behalf of Australia’s cotton industry in June 2014 that allows myBMP certified and BCI registered growers to sell their cotton as BCI cotton.
The Cotton to Market strategy is helping to create value for Australia’s cotton growers. In the 2014/15 season, some growers were able to negotiate a $3 – $8 per bale premium for their cotton sold as BCI cotton, representing a significant opportunity for local growers.
Goondiwindi grower and Cotton Australia Deputy Chair – Simon Corish says that growers in the Australian cotton industry’s myBMP program have an opportunity to get to full certification and be part of this market.
“There is a market there right now for BCI cotton, so it’s a great time to get on board,” Mr Corish says.
“BCI is focussed on making BCI cotton a mainstream commodity – representing 30% of world production by 2020. This year we’ll see almost 11% of the world’s cotton sold as BCI, and the organisation is on track to achieving this goal,” Mr Corish says.
Recently, Cotton Australia secured a seat on the BCI Council (its global oversight Board), and is represented by Mr Corish.
Mr Corish and Mr McIntyre attended a BCI Council meeting in Turkey to help set strategic direction for the global initiative, giving Australian growers a crucial seat the table.
Cotton Australia is the peak representative body for Australia’s cotton growing industry.
Source: Cotton Australia