How the AQRe Project is Elevating Supima Cotton

The Supima brand, renowned for its American-grown Pima cotton, launched the AQRe Project this past July.

This groundbreaking platform, designed to ensure the authenticity, quality, and ethical responsibility of the American-grown cotton used in garments, as Marc Lewkowitz highlights, President and CEO of Supima. The project leverages cutting-edge technology, blending blockchain-based traceability and forensic science methods to verify the origins and quality of Pima cotton.

A Paradigm Shift in Cotton Authentication

A remarkable development within the textile industry, the AQRe Project has already garnered the participation of approximately 40 Indian textile mills. This marks a significant milestone in its global adoption. As Mr. Lewkowitz shared during a seminar by Cotton USA, the platform has registered a total of 130 spinners worldwide. This resonates with the increasing global demand for sustainability and traceability. Consumers and garment buyers alike seek reassurance in the products they purchase.

Supima, known for its wide-reaching licensing program encompassing nearly 550 licensees worldwide, is embarking on a transformative journey. The organization is in the process of transitioning its licensing program into a digital and forensically verified platform. This transition will set an industry benchmark by seamlessly integrating digital traceability and transparency with physical authentication. The result is an unmatched level of confidence regarding the composition and origins of Supima products.

Navigating the Dynamics of Supima Cotton Production

One key highlight is the fact that the United States traditionally dominates the production of extra-long staple (ELS) Pima cotton. Which is nearly 95% of its output for international markets. India, in particular, stands out as a top buyer, accounting for 35-45% of the cotton procured. However, the outlook for Pima cotton production in the 2023-2024 crop year (August to July) is challenged.

Predicted yields are expected to range from 2.5 to 3 lakh bales. This notes a decrease from the 4.74 lakh bales recorded in 2022-2023 and the 3.4 lakh bales in 2021-2022. Adding to the challenge, the current market price is lower than the cost of production, further complicating the industry landscape.

William Bettendorf, Director of Supply Chain South Asia at the Cotton Council International, highlights the dynamics in U.S. cotton production. In 2022, the United States produced approximately 14.6 million bales, each weighing around 220 kg. This represents a decline from the previous year’s production of 17.5 million bales. These shifts in production underscore the complex interplay of factors influencing the cotton industry.

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