Organic Cotton

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Global Organic Cotton Apparel and Home Products Market Tops $1 Billion in 2006
Organic Cotton

According to the new Organic Exchange report, global markets for organic cotton apparel, home and personal care products went beyond one billion dollars in 2006. Organic Exchange further projected the organic cotton market will grow to nearly seven billion dollars by 2010. Among the top users of organic cotton were companies including Nike, Wal-Mart and Patagonia.

Projected estimates account for three times the amount of organic cotton used in 2006 by year-end 2008. Based out of Berkeley, California, Organic Exchange projects that figure to double again by 2010.

How Is Organic Cotton Different?

The production of organic cotton is different. Factors that distinguish organic farming methods from standard farming methods include the use of a system of farming that accounts for soil fertility, where maintenance and replenishing of the soil is regular; further, soil standards are also maintained without toxic fertilizers or pesticides. Lastly, standards also dictate that no genetically modified seeds are used in the cultivation process.

Global Markets for Organic Cotton Steadily on the Rise

The global retail sales figures for organic cotton topped around $580 million for year ending 2005, with the 2006 numbers representing an eighty-five percent increase from the prior year. With sales and production on the rise, Organic Exchange projects an additional increase of over eighty percent for the year 2007. Sales of organic cotton are expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2008, grow an additional billion from that figure in 2009 and then grow to nearly seven billion by 2010.

With more and more companies around the globe attempting to leave a lighter and lighter footprint behind, research and development has turned to organic cotton and other organic fibers, with an overall increased use in products. Changes happen in dramatic fashion this way, as the demand for organic cotton at once eliminates the use of toxic fertilizers and pesticides, a good step in agriculture. Further, because of proper and sustainable soil building used in organic farming, a reduction in water use also goes along with the practice.

What Is Fueling the Demand for Organic Cotton?

Among the leading factors leading to the increase in the organic cotton market are an increased demand on the part of consumers, who are seeking apparel, personal care and home textile-based products, such as organic cotton mattresses, in greater numbers.

Beyond this, many companies already with a presence in the international organic market (including companies who produce organic cotton in Ireland, Sweden, the US and UK), have expanded their organic cotton programs. Other major brands entering the organic cotton market is expected to fuel the growth in upcoming years.

As more products become available to consumers, consumers in turn are becoming more savvy and eco-conscious. This shift is most present in the fact that of the total organic cotton market, apparel represents nearly eighty-five percent. In addition to cotton, organic wool, linen and leather are all making appearances, as well.

Perhaps more telling, global standards of certification are becoming more developed, including the Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) and the Oeko-Tex processing standards, in addition to the rise of Fair Trade. Many companies have also increased their use of the Organic Exchange Online Tracking Service, which enables both consumers and companies to track the fiber materials in their products back to a specific animal or field.

Where Organic Cotton Is Being Produced

The top ten countries responsible for producing the organic cotton were (in order):
United States

44.9% or nearly half of the total amount of organic cotton was grown in the Middle East (Turkey, Syria and Israel), while almost one-third of all global organic cotton was grown in Southeast Asia (India and Pakistan).

Funding for the the Organic Exchange report was provided by ICCO, Martin-Fabert Foundation, Shell Foundation and Organic Exchange member companies.

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