‘Cotton Incorporated will be a $83 million company in 2013, said Berrye Worsham, CI’s president and CEO.

Half the money comes from cotton producers and the other half comes from the assessment of cotton imports into the U.S., arriving mostly as yarn or finished products.

He expects the 2014 budget to be down $8 million in 2014, due mostly to reduced acreage in 2013, lower prices and reduced imports. (According to USDA’s March planting intentions report, producers will plant 10 million acres this year, down 20 percent from last year.)

The U.S. cotton business is still recovering, or working through, a run in prices in early 2011, when cotton prices reached all-time highs, marching near $2 per pound for a short time.

This threw a shockwave through the supply chain. Cotton demand shrank and it lost market share to its main competitor, polyester, which was selling for $1.20 to $1.30 per pound less than cotton at the time.

“The impact this had on the market was dramatic, to put it lightly,” Worsham said.

Cotton and polyester are more closely priced now. “But the mindset is still there, and it will take some years of some stability in price before that kind of washes through the memory banks of retailers.

“So, the next couple of years on the demand side we are still facing the challenges of that tremendous run up in price,” he said.

Cotton’s share of the world’s staple fiber is a good indicator of how it is doing in the home furnishings and apparel markets.

That share was 60 percent a few years ago. It dropped in 2011 to 54 percent and 2012’s share is expected to drop even a bit lower, Worsham said. “So, the difference in market share from where we were just a few years ago to today is the equivalent of maybe 12, 13 or even 14 million bales.”

But Cotton Incorporated is working to re-introduce consumers to cotton clothes, most recently during Cotton’s 24 Hour Runway Show, which took place March 1-2. It sent 1,440 cotton looks down the runway from 74 different retailers, brands and designers, said Andrea Samber, Cotton Incorporated’s co-director of strategic alliances.

The runway show was first introduced in 2011, partnered with MTV and had 7 participating retailers and such. That year 15,000 people watched the show online.

Now in its third year, Cotton Incorporated partnered this year with people.com and People Stylewatch magazine. More than 678,000 people watched the 2013 show, or 4,377 percent more than watched in 2011.

This, matched with Cotton’s “The Fabric Of Our Lives” slogan and campaign, which each year puts a young female celebrity as its spokesman, Samber said, is getting cotton back front and center in consumer’s faces.

 

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