Sales of organic fiber products continue to grow - Organic Trade Association
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Sales of organic fiber products continue to grow


GREENFIELD, Mass. (Jan. 4, 2002)—U.S. and Canadian manufacturers of organic fiber products have seen their sales grow 22 percent annually over the past five years, with non-clothing items, such as linens and personal care products, experiencing 39 percent growth, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) 2001 Manufacturers’ Market Survey.

Sales of clothing made with organic fiber grew by 11 percent during the same period for OTA members who manufacture organic fiber products, which include products made from organic cotton, wool, or other fiber crops. The survey projects an average annual growth rate of 44% during 2000 to 2005 for all organic fiber products.

The estimated U.S. harvest of 10,799 acres of organic cotton yielded 4,099,680 pounds (8,541 bales) of cotton in 2000, according to data collected by OTA in a separate survey funded by a grant from Cotton Incorporated. In 2001, U.S. growers planted 11,459 acres of certified organic and transitional cotton. Harvest figures for 2001 are not yet available.

A decrease in organic cotton acreage from the 16,785 acres recorded for 1999 has been due partially to state mandated boll weevil eradication zones. In such zones, organic farmers faced having to spray pesticides not approved for organic production, which would lead to losing their organic certification status, or plowing the crop under if an unacceptable number of boll weevil were found. Another hurdle for U.S. growers of organic cotton has been to obtain contracts for their crops. There are signs this may be changing, however.

"Major U.S. retailers of apparel have met with organic farmers during the past year to discuss overcoming supply chain and sourcing issues," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director. "Interest by additional large companies to use organic cotton holds the promise to U.S. growers of increased outlets for their crops, and should encourage increased production."

Interest in organic products has been growing both domestically and internationally. A November 200l report from the Pesticide Action Network of the United Kingdom shows approximately 5,950 metric tons (slightly more than 13 million pounds) of organic cotton were grown in 11 countries around the world in 2000-2001. Turkey’s production represented 29 percent of the global total, followed by the United States, with 27 percent.

Additional information about organic cotton production and sales will be included in a talk by OTA’s Fiber Council Coordinator Sandra Marquardt at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 11 during the 2002 Beltwide Cotton Conferences, slated for Jan. 8-12, 2002, in Atlanta, GA. In addition, organic fiber products will be among the features at OTA’s All Things Organic™ Conference and Trade Show, slated for May 8-11, 2002, in Austin, TX.

January 4, 2002

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