A decision by the US Federal Trade Commission that products made from Crailar natural fibres can be labelled as "flax" rather than "linen" is seen as an important step in emphasising the material's unique nature to consumers.

"Our process results in a pure flax product that feels and can be cared for like cotton, and we believe that articulating that at retail is an important part of the unique brand proposition for Crailar Flax, to the merchandising opportunities of our partner brands, and to the relationship we intend to build with consumers," explains Jay Nalbach, chief marketing officer of Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc (NAT), which produces and markets the fibre.

"We conclude that describing these fibres as flax on labels attached to textile fibre products made from the fibres would comply with the Rules," the FTC said.

"We also conclude that describing these fibres as linen rather than flax could mislead or deceive consumers."

Crailar, which is made from flax, hemp and other bast fibers is being used commercially by HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific and Brilliant Global Knitwear. It is also being evaluated by Levi Strauss, Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, Westex, Target and PVH Corp.

NAT is constructing its first full-scale production facility in Pamplico, South Carolina, and expects to be delivering fibre from the facility in the third quarter of this year.