U.S. Cotton Fiber Economics
U.S. Cotton Fiber Economics
U.S. cotton is the world’s premium cotton fiber. The United States devotes more resources than any other country to improve seed and fiber quality to produce a sustainable, contamination free, high quality, and reliable cotton fiber. Textile products made with a majority of U.S. cotton enjoy the benefits of these fiber properties.
When you buy U.S. cotton-rich yarns and fabrics for your apparel or home textile manufacturing operations, you are starting with the best raw materials, beginning with U.S. cotton fiber.
- U.S. & World Supply, Demand and Price Statistics (July 2011)
Introduction to U.S. Cotton Industry
Yarns and fabrics manufactured in the United States contain 100% U.S. cotton unless they are labeled otherwise. By using U.S. raw cotton as the base ingredient for cotton apparel products, manufacturers will have advantages over cottons of other origins. U.S. cotton growers use hard work and superior technology to produce the world's highest quality cotton. Since the mid-1980s, the fiber produced by the U.S. cotton grower has undergone an enormous transformation. U.S. upland cotton is now longer, whiter, finer, stronger and cleaner. These improvements are the result of an effective communications effort among textile manufacturers, cotton growers and seed breeders.
Today the $6 billion U.S. cotton farming industry includes 35,000 business enterprises that employ some 170,000 individuals. Seven countries produce over 70 percent of the world’s total supply of cotton. They are United States, China, India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Turkey, and Australia. Historically the U.S. is the largest supplier of raw fiber in terms of international shipping or exports. Approximately 75% of the cotton grown in the United States is exported around the world with the balance used by U.S. textile mills.
The importance and the shear size of the U.S. cotton farming industry has resulted in an unprecedented commitment to fund research and development projects that are directed towards improving the production, marketing and ultimately, the performance of U.S. cotton in textile and apparel manufacturing. No other cotton producing country in the world can match the annual $200 million public and private investment level of the U.S. cotton industry. As a result the U.S. cotton industry leads the world in the research and development of the best quality cotton.
As the chosen supplier to the world’s leading textile mills the U.S. raw cotton fiber industry understands that cotton fiber quality is essential to high-tech spinning operations. Modern textile mills using the latest technologically advanced equipment require contamination free cotton fiber that spins into consistent, high-strength yarn at speeds unheard of in the past.
As spinning and fabric forming speeds increased, perhaps the greatest demand on fiber was to increase strength. U.S. cotton’s strength increased to an average close to 29.6 grams/tex in 2008 from 26 in 1984. Fiber length also made great strides. Just 10 years ago, the average cotton fiber was 1 and 1/16 inches long. Today, the trend line average for U.S. cotton fiber length is 1 and 3/32 inches. The longer fiber allows for the application of more twist during spinning. The increase in twist produces yarn and fabric strong enough to knit and weave high quality cotton fabrics which are used to create some of the world’s best apparel and home fashion products.
Fiber fineness, also known as micronaire and color qualities have improved as well. Micronaire is an important factor in determining the fineness of a yarn and key to producing yarns for knit fabric formers. Improved color makes the job of dyeing the yarn much easier. Most U.S. cotton now classes as a white grade, the easiest fiber to dye, as compared to spotted or tinged grade. A comparison of the classing data from the last 10 years illustrates that the U.S. cotton producing industry has truly become a "one-stop" supermarket of cottons.