Australian cotton industry roadmap on track to next milestone

Cotton Australia, ACSA and CRDC have reached an important milestone in collaboration on the Strategic Roadmap for the Australian Cotton Industry aimed at helping the industry remain competitive in a changing fashion and textiles market.

Cotton to Market’s Brooke Summers attended the workshops in Brisbane which discussed the trends and drivers on the key topic areas with stakeholders agreeing on the future target state of the industry.

“This is about deciding where we want to be as an industry in ten years and charting a path to achieve those targets. The process has been really good, and we have made significant progress. The challenge will be agreeing on the solutions but the commitment by all involved is encouraging,” Brooke said.

Chair of the Cotton Australia Board Nigel Burnett attended the event. “We have had the experts in the room for each of the five priority area workshops and the roadmap steering committee has benefitted from their direct and high-level insights.

“It’s exciting to be part of such a constructive and collaborative effort aimed at working out where we want to be to satisfy our supply chain and customers well into the future,” Mr Burnett said.

The five key topic areas addressed across industry, farmers and stakeholders, are: traceability, industry data, sustainably-certified cotton/myBMP program, human rights and Australian cotton marketing.

The global landscape for cotton and textiles has changed, with new legislation affecting market access, companies required to report on social and environmental impact and global frameworks requiring evidence of social and environmental governance back to farm level.

With the European Union and the United States taking firm action to ensure products entering these markets are sustainably sourced, and free from human rights issues, Australian cotton is at risk of losing access to export markets if the industry fails to prepare for the future.

Our brand and retail customers, their shareholders and governments are demanding supply chain traceability, and certified sustainable raw materials backed up by data to support claims.

“With a smaller, geographically contained industry compared to our competitors, we have a unique opportunity to capitalise on nearly three decades of sustainability work and a strong human rights record if we get this roadmap right.” Cotton Australia Chair Nigel Burnett said.

General Manager R&D Investment at CRDC, Allan Williams said the supply chain is shifting its focus from physical cotton to information about where and how the cotton was produced.

“While the roles and responsibilities of industry and commercial organisations when it comes to producing and moving physical cotton through the supply chain are well established, the same can’t be said about the information.

“What information do we need to provide? Who is responsible for collecting, storing and providing it? How do we best share that information, safely and securely? This road map will help us answer these questions, and help ensure that our cotton remains a product of choice because of its excellent fibre qualities and its sustainable production practices.” General Manager R&D Investment at CRDC, Allan Williams said.

ACSA Chair said Matthew Bradd highlighted the benefits for the Australian cotton merchant community of being able to promote the competitive advantages of Australian cotton over other exporters.

“What we’re seeing in recent years is some of our competitors are now meeting the increasing needs of consumers in new and more efficient ways. The development of the roadmap is the best way to bring the industry up to speed on important market issues such as traceability, sustainability and data.

“If the industry doesn’t work together to address these, then we run the risk of losing market share and potentially premium for our product on the world market. It is because of this the ACSA are excited about being involved in the Roadmap process and the benefits it will bring to the entire industry” Mr Bradd said.

The final roadmap is expected to be finalised in July this year, funded by the Australian Government under the ATMAC program.