Market opportunities

Before deciding to set up an organic cotton project, analyze the possibilities you have to find buyers who might purchase the cotton at the conditions you can offer.
Demand for organic cotton has grown considerably over the past decade but so have supplies. Your project will need to be able to compete with other producers who may be better able to match the buyers’ needs in terms of volumes, product specifications, certificates, logistics and/or price. Buyers may indicate a general interest in buying organic cotton from your project, but might finally buy from another supplier who, for example, offers longer staple, earlier delivery, a lower price or a Fairtrade certificate in addition. It is therefore important to check general market trends for organic cotton, as well as to clarify with potential clients what their exact requirements are.
 
Textile brands and retailers are increasingly open to entering into long-term partnerships with smallholder organic cotton projects. Having direct links with specific projects allows them to achieve their sustainability goals (corporate social responsibility) and to tell the consumer about the social and environmental benefits of organic cotton (“a product with a story to tell”).
 
A crucial factor for the economic viability of an organic cotton project may be whether the crops that are grown in rotation or in association with the cotton can be sold at an organic premium too. It is therefore also important to check market demand at national or international level for other organic products that the farms involved already produce or could produce in the future. Market research in the initial stages of the project makes it possible to adjust the cropping system to include rotation crops likely to encounter market demand.

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