The impact of global warming on cotton production, and the challenge of raising visibility of the fibre among consumers in Latin America were some of the issues tabled by industry executives this week.

just-style has already reported how the first open session of the 72nd Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC) taking place in Cartagena, Colombia looked at inter-fibre competition, especially the challenge from synthetic fibres.

But a subsequent session on global warming and cotton production argued that new management practices for cotton farming need to be formulated to deal with changing agronomic and weather conditions.

The inter-governmental group heard how climate change affects both temperatures and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels - with a rise in both forecast to increase pests, increase demand for potassium fertiliser and increase vegetative growth.

Genetic improvement and modification of agricultural tasks will be needed for crops to adapt to future climate conditions, they were told.

Delegates were also told that the industry must work to raise awareness of cotton among the growing group of consumers in Latin America.

"We see a population that's changing, with important growth in young consumers who are eager to buy," said Jaime Flores, director of supply chain marketing in Latin America for Cotton Incorporated. "They're more aware of fashion and they buy more impulsively."

In Latin America, cotton apparel competes for consumer spending with electronics, entertainment, and digital products - but a bigger challenge is overcoming misperceptions about cotton's flexibility and capabilities.

"We need to give consumers the ability to make informed decisions when it comes to buying cotton products, and we need to give retailers options so cotton can be a player in the marketplace," Flores said.

On the retail side, the most common misperception is that cotton is a material suitable only for basic products, and is unable to compete with other materials when it comes to fashion.

On the consumer side, the lack of awareness is often more about cotton's performance capabilities such as moisture management.

 "Raising that level of awareness is a crucial step in the long-term success of cotton, not only in Latin America but around the world," he said.