Cotton prices and sustainability

The sustainable cotton sector continues to grow, according to a new report. By producing sustainable cotton, farmers can raise their prices and boost their incomes.

Consumers and companies around the globe are increasingly choosing cotton that has been produced in line with voluntary sustainability standards (VSSs) such as Better Cotton and Cotton made in Africa. This is the finding of the latest edition of the Global Market Report: Cotton Prices and Sustainability published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) in January 2023.

The report shows that VSS-compliant cotton production has doubled every 2.5 years, on average, since 2008. It includes a detailed analysis of how adhering to sustainability standards can affect cotton prices and income received by cotton farmers. 

In 2019, about 92 per cent of VSS-compliant cotton came from Asia, led by India, China, and Turkey. Africa produced about 4 per cent, mainly in Tanzania, Uganda and Benin. The top standards by 2019 production volume are Better Cotton, Cotton made in Africa, Organic and Fairtrade.

Farmers can receive up to 50 per cent higher prices and 20 per cent higher crop incomes for VSS-compliant cotton compared to conventional cotton, due to the increased quality and cost-efficient practices associated with compliance. However, minimum price levels used by some VSSs have been ineffective, as they are often set below international market prices and government-set prices. 


Read more and download the report on the IISD website

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