Basic Information for Developing or Adjusting Sourcing Strategies
The United States imports textiles from more than 80 countries. Brands, retailers, and companies importing apparel and other textiles have many choices when it comes to the geography of sourcing cotton and cotton products. As companies develop or adjust their sourcing strategies, it is helpful to understand vital information about cotton, trade in cotton and production, and manufacturing practices that can affect sourcing and traceability.
Many companies are searching for information about cotton production in China and how this may be affected by current regulations by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Sourcing Cotton Webinar
If business conditions, regulations, or compliance requirements have you rethinking your cotton sourcing strategy, this webinar takes you through basic information essential to evaluating your cotton sourcing plan.
Webinar originally played 2/10/21.
On this page, you will find the following information to help you with sourcing cotton products:
- How and where is cotton grown?
- Where are cotton and cotton yarns traded?
- Why are fiber properties so important to understand when making sourcing decisions?
- What should you consider when evaluating traceability technologies?
- What additional resources might help with determining a sourcing strategy for cotton?
- Helpful Terms
If you have specific questions about this topic that are not addressed below, contact us.
How and where is cotton grown?
Cotton is a global agricultural commodity, produced and traded worldwide.
World Maps: Production & Mill Consumption
Cotton mill use or consumption refers to fiber spun into yarn or used in manufacturing for products such as nonwovens. This video briefly outlines where cotton is grown and used in manufacturing around the world.
Download PDF: Cotton Production & Consumption
Video does not contain audio.
Understanding Cotton Production Systems: Genetically Modified, Conventional, & Organic
Get to know the distinction between genetically modified, organic, and conventional cotton in the context of sustainability conversations.
Download PDF: Comparing Conventional & Organic Cotton Production
Cotton Fiber Development and Maturation
All cotton products begin as a plant. Explore a summary of the growth and development of a cotton plant, from seed germination to maturation.
Cotton Fiber Harvesting & Ginning
Before cotton fiber heads to the mill, it first has to be harvested from the field and go through the ginning process. Our Cotton Fiber Harvesting & Ginning page outlines the full method with the support of diagrams and images from the process.
Where is cotton traded?
The top four exporters by origin of raw cotton account for 80% of global shipments of raw cotton.
The top five importers of raw cotton account for about 80% of globally traded cotton.
Source: USDA: Cotton World Markets and Trade; for 2020/21 crop year (August 1, 2020 through July 31, 2021)
Flow of Cotton in China
China is the world’s:
- Second largest cotton grower.
- Largest cotton spinner.
- Largest manufacturer of fabric.
- Largest apparel exporter.
With this in mind, this video outlines the flow of cotton through China, from raw fiber to finished goods.
Download PDF: Imports, Exports, & Flow Out of China
Video does not contain audio.
Why are fiber properties so important to understand when making sourcing decisions?
Because cotton is a natural material, it is important for yarn manufacturers to manage variation in fiber properties to ensure the production of consistent, high-quality yarns. For sourcing, this means that yarn manufacturing in a company’s supply chain should always have the flexibility to source appropriate qualities of cotton. Yarn manufacturers do not just buy tons or pounds of cotton — they buy the right fiber qualities of cotton to make the best products for their customers.
For further information about the important fiber qualities for cotton, review our e-book, Classification of Cotton.
What should you consider when evaluating traceability technologies?
Cotton Incorporated works with companies and technology providers to evaluate and promote solutions that are beneficial to manufacturing with and sourcing cotton. While information about technologies and products is not always publicly available, Cotton Incorporated encourages thoughtful consideration of technologies and performance claims. The information in this document is intended to serve as guidance for thinking about traceability technologies, including:
- Traceability technology fundamentals
- Traceability technology considerations for cotton
- Evaluation recommendations
- Questions to consider regardless of the technology approach
- Questions to consider specific to inherent technology methods
- Questions to consider specific to additive technology methods
What additional resources might help with determining a sourcing strategy?
Sourcing decisions are complex and often involve many different factors. Knowledge of cotton production, trade, and fiber properties can help companies understand important basic information that can be combined with other factors such as import regulations, manufacturing prices, and companies’ own priorities and policies. For additional information, explore these resources.
More sustainable cotton production means using our natural resources — water, land, and energy — more efficiently. Learn about the issues, progress, prospects, and goals for increased efficiency in these three key resource areas.
Cotton Incorporated’s Monthly Economic Letter provides a unique analysis of the latest events affecting the world cotton market and world cotton prices. An up-to-date letter is available each month through cottonworks.com/news.
Get to know the Harmonized Tariff System classification guidelines and learn techniques for modifying fiber content or garment construction that will result in duty savings without compromising design integrity.
The Cotton LEADS℠ program connects textile manufacturers, brands, and retailers with a variety of ways to advance sustainable cotton production. Learn how you can get involved and help advance sustainable cotton in your supply chain.
The USCTP program sets a new standard for more sustainably grown cotton by bringing quantifiable and verifiable goals and measurement to sustainable cotton production and driving continuous improvement in key sustainability metrics.
AAFA is the national trade association representing the apparel and footwear industry and works to identify member needs and facilitate engagement with policymakers around brand management, supply chain and manufacturing, and trade.
USFIA represents brands, retailers, importers, and wholesalers based in the United States and doing business globally, and works to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers that impede the fashion industry’s ability to trade freely.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released a list of frequently asked questions about the implementation of a withhold release order (WRO) on XUAR cotton and cotton products.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The Department of Homeland Security’s mission is broad and diverse, covering challenges from counterterrorism to the United States’ maritime and border security, from protection of national leaders to coordinating the federal government’s response to natural disasters.
Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is the unified border agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with the management, control, and protection of our nation’s borders at and between official ports of entry. CBP is charged with securing the borders of the United States while enforcing hundreds of laws and facilitating lawful trade and travel.
Withhold Release Order (WRO)
A WRO is an order issued by the U.S. CBP. It detains goods imported into the U.S. at their point of entry until the importer submits proof the goods were not made using forced labor, or they re-export the goods to another country.
Source: Forced Labor: U.S. Government Continues Record-Breaking Enforcement Levels (assentcompliance.com)
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR)
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is one of five autonomous regions, along with 23 provinces and four municipalities, under the governance of China.
Source: CIA.gov, The World Fact Book
Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC)
The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), known as Bingtuan, is a quasi-military, governmental organization in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.
Uyghur (Alt. Spellings: Uighur, Uygur)
Uyghurs are a primarily Turkic, primarily Muslim, ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. The majority of this group live in Xinjiang.
Forced labor occurs when individuals are compelled to provide work or service through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.