Concern Over Cotton Crisis Deepens

05/10/2010 at 9:36 am Leave a comment

We’ve been hearing alot about the rise of cotton prices these days.  In the past year, prices have risen by more than 50%, reaching 14 year highs of more than a dollar per pound.

Devastating floods in both Pakistan and China, two of the worlds largest cotton suppliers, have led to a supply falling far short of demand.  Predictions of a bumper crop in India this year have dissolved as reports indicate that  heavy rains have raised concerns of damage to cotton crops.  India has compounded concerns after its textile industry called for a export ban until next year to ease supply issues.

The above factors have led us to an imbalance of supply and demand.  When the economic downturn occurred, farmers turned from growing cotton to more profitable crops such as soya and corn.  Considering that cotton has only one yield each year, it will take some time for stock levels to build up again.

Graham Burden, of Sustainable Textile Solutions, believes that more cotton will be available next year but that demand will continue to grow and as a result he predicts that we will see a 5-8% increase early next year.  He states that cotton is the main component of cheaper priced goods such as t-shirts, socks and underwear and that the prices of these items will mostly be affected.

So, is there a solution to the cotton crisis?  YES!  With the use of our patented CRAiLAR process,  we have created the first sustainable, commericially viable complement to cotton.

“This is an industry first,” said Ken Barker, CEO of Naturally Advanced Technologies.  “With cotton prices currently close to $1/ per pound, flax is a cost-effective raw material for fiber production.  Our recent spinning trials with CRAiLAR-processed flax have been highly successful, which further validates the feasibility of flax as a practical, economically viable complement to cotton.”

Flax is easy to grow with minimal use of herbicides, pesticides and engineered irrigation and is abundant in the U.S. and Canada, which significantly reduces costs from a supply-chain perspective as compared to other natural fibers.  The CRAiLAR process can also be used with the stalk portion of the oilseed flax plant — traditionally cultivated for food and industrial applications — which would normally be discarded during processing.  Making use of this byproduct, in addition to processing fiber-variety flax, further enhances CRAiLAR’s sustainability factor.

The all-natural, 100%-organic CRAiLAR process is the first to successfully remove the binding agents from flax that contribute to its stiff texture.  The process bathes bast fibers in a proprietary enzyme wash that transforms them into soft, yet strong and durable textile fibers, which can be used in both fashion and industrial applications.  Fibers made through the CRAiLAR process have the comfort and breathability of cotton, with the strength, moisture-wicking properties and shrink-resistance of sturdy bast fibers. NAT’s recent trials have proven that flax can be spun on existing machinery to produce a yarn that can be used alone or blended with other fibers.

We are currently in the advanced stages of developing partner relationships with industry giants that produce goods with fashion and industrial textiles. Spinning trials are currently underway.

“The opportunity is tremendous” added Barker.  “Our ability to economically commercialize flax fibers in partnership with brands who have such broad consumer bases means, for the first time, sustainability can be affordable to everyone.”

Entry filed under: Cotton, Economy, Flax, Textiles. Tags: , , , , .

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