C&A has been promoting organic cotton production for around ten years

C&A has been promoting organic cotton production for around ten years

Despite increasing demand for organic cotton in international markets, global production continues to decline, European value fashion retailer C&A has warned.

The retailer, which has been promoting the use of organic cotton in its clothes for around ten years, says counteracting the shortage is a priority.

Indeed, it goes so far as to suggest it will have ecological, social and economic consequences for all in the organic cotton supply chain worldwide. Measured against the global production of cotton, the share of organic cotton is currently only 1%.

"We are now at a critical point in which the demand for organic cotton is exceeding the supply," said Thorsten Rolfes, head of corporate communications Europe. "The availability uncertainty tied to this threatens to endanger long-term investment in organic cotton."

Worldwide production of organic cotton rose continuously to the year 2011, but crop yields subsequently sank by 8% in the following years. Even though around 50% of producers increased their output of organic cotton, the decline was blamed on a lack of knowledge regarding cultivation methods and a lack of cooperation between communities.

To spread awareness, C&A has published a brochure: 'Let's take Bio Cotton to everyone every day', which explains the added value and challenges of organic cotton production, and shows opportunities for those in the global supply chain. It is here, C&A suggests, that garment companies have a particular responsibility.

"Brands play a key role in the development of organic cotton as a sustainable resource," says Rolfes.

"Some brands are taking action, but the supply crisis shows that much more needs to be done. Collaboration is the key - working in partnership with experts, local communities and governments can enable organic cotton to realise its full potential.

"But firms can make a difference not only in the production countries but also in the sales markets by making their customers aware of the subject of organic cotton. In our experience, it is possible to create awareness, fulfill the demand and be profitable."

C&A claims to be the largest buyer of organic cotton and sold over 100m products made from organic cotton in fiscal 2013. The share of organic cotton against the total cotton collection is 38%.