In some circles, you might say that Latin America doesn’t receive nearly enough credit for being an important market for U.S. cotton.
However, anyone who studies the statistics knows otherwise. China may receive all of the publicity for being such a big customer for U.S. cotton. However, Latin America is a critically important market, and the prospects for increased future consumption of U.S. cotton in the region have never looked better.
That was the general consensus of the U.S. producer delegation that toured Mexico, Honduras and Peru in July.
The trip, sponsored by Cotton Council International (CCI), the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council, and Cotton Incorporated gave eight U.S. producers a chance to reinforce the industry’s commitment to continue delivering cotton fiber and value-added products to the region.
Important Export Market
How Important Is Latin America?
How important are the Andean, Caribbean Basin Initiative and Mexican regions to U.S. cotton’s exports markets?
According to CCI, Mexico consumes around two million bales of cotton each year in both fiber and the fiber equivalent of yarns and fabrics. This represents 16 percent of the cotton grown in the United States – or one out of every 10 bales.
The CBI countries collectively consume more of U.S. cotton exports than Mexico. At 2.4 million bale equivalents, slightly more than one out of every two bales of cotton consumed by U.S. mills is exported to the CBI in the form of yarn or fabric.
When the entire Western Hemi-sphere region is included, the numbers are even more impressive. Around 2.2 million bales of U.S. fiber exports are sent to these regions, representing about 23 percent of total U.S. exports.
Texas producer Brady Mimms says the trip was an educational experience. He knew how important Honduras, Peru and Mexico were as export markets for U.S. cotton, but he was surprised to see such modern machinery being used by the mills in all three countries.
“That really impressed me,” he says. “The mills were as advanced as anything I’ve seen in the United States. It just proves to me how important those countries are for U.S. cotton.”
Mimms also recalls conversations he had with many mill executives who were interested in how the U.S. cotton crop was faring this year. Because of the drawdown in U.S. cotton stocks, the availability of cotton was a concern for all mills visited during the trip.
“When I told them that the U.S. crop was projected to be a big one this year, they were pleased to hear that,” Mimms added. “I really think they were concerned about how much access they would have to our cotton this year.”
Mississippi producer David Cochran was equally interested in what he observed on the trip. Like Mimms, he knew that Latin America was an important market for U.S. cotton. Now he has an even greater appreciation for the region.
“I can say for sure that U.S. cotton’s reputation remains excellent in this region,” says Cochran. “I really think our ability to provide High Volume Instrument (HVI) information puts our cotton in a different category.”
The producer delegation began its trip in Mexico City where it had several meetings with that country’s textile industry leadership. Included in the stop was a tour of the Grupo Zaga textile mill.
The tour continued on to Honduras for similar meetings with that country’s textile leaders as well as a tour of the Gildan knitting and sewing plant.
The trip concluded with a stop in Peru where meetings were conducted with Andean textile and mill leadership as well as a tour of the Nuevo Mundo mill.
North Carolina producer David Burns believes that Latin American countries have always appreciated the reliability and quality of U.S. cotton delivered to their mills.
“You just can’t put a pricetag on how important it is to have this kind of reputation in global markets,” says Burns. “It’s what sets us apart from our competitors.”
Tennessee producer Harris Armour probably summed up the trip as well as anyone. He saw firsthand how easy CCI and Cotton Incorporated have made it for mills and buyers to conduct business with the United States.
“Both sides appreciate the situation we have, and I see no reason why we can’t build on this relationship,” he said.
CCI Executive Director Allen Terhaar, who accompanied the delegation, says the U.S. cotton industry couldn’t have chosen better spokespersons than producers.
He says spinners and overseas brand representatives love to hear directly from producers – especially as it pertains to quality and reliability of U.S. cotton.
“It not only exposes the U.S. producer to the COTTON USA market development activities that CCI and Cotton Incorporated conduct overseas,” he said, “but there are no better spokes-persons for U.S. cotton than the producers themselves.”
Contact Tommy Horton at (901) 767-4020 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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