Supima cotton faces a transitional period with a diminished 2023-24 harvest, voiced by Supima’s CEO Marc Lewkowitz, of this trend extending into the upcoming 2024 plantings.
Supima cotton finds itself in a state of transition as the curtain falls on the 2023-24 harvest season. This year’s crop has seen a decline in yields of American-grown Pima cotton. Marc Lewkowitz, the president and CEO of Supima, anticipates this trend persisting into the 2024 plantings.
Unveiling the Factors Behind Supima Cotton Decline
The decline is attributed to the multifaceted nature of farming. Cotton growers have weighed their choices based on the most lucrative return on investment. Factor in pricing pressures and adverse weather conditions, and farmers find themselves grappling with weighty decisions. Lewkowitz elucidated in a recent fireside chat with Sarah Jones, senior editor of strategic content at Sourcing Journal. He highlighted, “While they love to grow cotton, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll plant it. If there’s not a value that supports them, they won’t.”
Escalating input costs for growers, encompassing everything from equipment to energy, further compound the challenges. Simultaneously, the sale price of Supima has experienced a descent from approximately $3.50 a pound in 2022 to around $2.35 a pound in recent months. Lewkowitz noted, “Based on current supply and demand metrics, it looks like we are at a stable price point for the time being.”
Consumer Shifts and Supply Chain Solutions
On the consumer front, the pandemic-induced surge in consumption has waned, with people diversifying their spending beyond tangible goods. However, the allure of comfortable, quality knits endures. Lewkowitz remarked, “Consumers can find their favorite T-shirt in their drawer, something that they like wearing that’s comfortable, breathable, durable, and it looks the same wash after wash.”
With a growing emphasis on product transparency at all levels of the supply chain, Supima is pioneering the AQRe™ Project. This traceability platform combines forensic testing from Oritain with TextileGenesis’ digital traceability. To ensure fairness in expenses, the cost of AQRe traceability, inclusive of the right to use the brand name, is positioned at the point of yarn sale, diffusing the fee across the downstream chain.
Although only about half of all Pima cotton grown in the U.S. finds its way into products licensed under the SUPIMA® brand, a significant quarter of the current crop year’s production has already been incorporated into the AQRe™ Project platform since its launch in July. Lewkowitz anticipates increased adoption as more production shifts away from old contracts, ultimately providing comprehensive visibility into every article made with Supima cotton. He envisions a future where consumers can click on a product ID and access a complete geographical map showcasing the movement and origin of the product.