Ted Sheely of Lemoore Calif left takes over as Supima chairman for retiring chairman Keith Deputy of Chamberino NM center Joining the board this year is new California director Brad Reinhart of Corcoran Calif right

Ted Sheely of Lemoore, Calif., left, takes over as Supima chairman for retiring chairman Keith Deputy of Chamberino, N.M, center. Joining the board this year is new California director Brad Reinhart of Corcoran, Calif., right.

American Pima cotton on its way back

California’s 153,000 acres represents a 53 percent increase in acreage from last year and more than 80 percent of the total U.S. American Pima production. Despite water challenges, yields of American Pima have done remarkably well. Last year’s crop averaged 1,341 pounds per acre; the highest being California’s 1,494 pounds. 

The pain of $3 American Pima cotton prices and the resulting loss in markets still lingers almost six years after the fact.

However, growers and merchants were told recently at Supima’s annual meeting in Coalinga, Calif. that the tide is turning with improved sales and an uptick in prices. Acreage is up 23 percent in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas this season to 190,300 acres with a production estimate of 565,000 bales, an increase from 433,000 bales last season.

Supima outgoing chairman Keith Deputy of Chamberino, N.M., a Texas-New Mexico Pima grower, told his fellow Pima growers that the outlook for Pima is on the rebound.

“There are a lot of positive things happening right now,” commented Supima President Marc Lewkowitz, citing new products coming out soon, plus continued recognition with its design competition every year in New York and for the first time last year in Paris.

A presentation by three key marketers from Lands’ End punctuated the positives. Lands’ End has been using and promoting American Pima for 25 years.

California’s 153,000 acres represents a 53 percent increase in acreage from last year and more than 80 percent of the total U.S. American Pima production. Several at the meeting indicated that acreage could have gone higher if water had been available. Low processing tomato prices also prompted the cotton acreage increase.

Export sales for 2016-2017 are off to a robust start with 201,300 bales already registered compared to 70,500 bales last year at this time. The U.S. produces 31 percent of the world extra-long staple and long-staple Cotton.

China is the biggest producer and consumer of ELS cotton, but its imports dropped sharply last season from 51 percent of the world market to 35 percent. Supima president Mark Lewkowitz said some of the loss was picked up with increased sales to India, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Global supply is expected to be smaller this year than last with total production forecast at 2.09 million bales. Carryover stocks from the 2015-2016 crop are estimated to be virtually unchanged at 946,000 bales.

Consumption is forecast to increase further following a large increase last year to almost 2.65 million bales. Global stocks at the end of this year are expected to be 9 percent lower.

Despite water challenges, yields of American Pima have done remarkably well. Last year’s crop averaged 1,341 pounds per acre; the highest being California’s 1,494 pounds. It expected to be even better this year with a projected average yield of 1,537 pounds per acre in the Golden State.

Contract severance

The biggest news in the ELS-LS world is the severance of the contract between Target and a major India textile mill, Welspun, after the retailer said it discovered that 750,000 sheets and pillowcases labeled as Egyptian cotton were actually made with non-Egyptian cotton.

While only a couple of products are involved in this, Target has severed its ties with Welspun for all of the company’s products.

“We have informed Welspun that, due to this conduct, we are in the process of terminating our relationship with them,” said Molly Snyder, a Target spokeswoman. “We value the trust that our guests place in us. The Target team will continue to work closely with all vendors to help ensure that the products we offer to our guests meet or exceed their expectations.”

The retailer pulled the items from its stores, and began notifying customers that it will give them a refund on the products, which were produced between August 2014 and July 2016 and sold for as much as $75.

Welspun also makes towels, sheets, rugs, and carpets for 18 of the top 30 global retailers, including its other major clients including Wal-Mart, JCPenney, Bed, Bath and Beyond, Costco, and Macy’s.

Opportunity for U.S. Pima

Lewkowitz said this issue creates an opportunity for U.S. grown American Pima cotton, but it also “reinforces our ongoing message to the textile industry about our DNA testing procedures.”

With demand for luxury cotton at an all-time high, Lewkowitz said it’s becoming more important than ever to ensure both the brands that use Supima and the consumers that have come to look for our premium cotton are getting what they pay for.

Supima licenses more almost 359 mills and retailers to use the Supima label for only 100 percent American Pima products. Supima is using DNA testing products to ensure that. It also has been used to ferret out products labeled “Pima” which in most cases have proven there is considerable Upland cotton in them.

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