Forecasts for world cotton production have been lifted again, with the latest projection pointing to a 12% increase during the 2017/18 marketing year, according to new figures from the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC).

In its latest update, ICAC indicated production for the period would be 25.74m tonnes compared with its October forecast of 25.4m tonnes. This would mean a 12% rise year-on-year in global production during 2017/18, compared with a rise of 7% in 2016/17 – and is largely due to an expected 11% expansion in world cotton area to 32.5m hectares following two years of decline.

Within this, planted area in India is estimated at 11.55m hectares for 2017/18, with production projected to grow by 8.7% to 6.2m tons. In the US, planted area has continued to grow for the second season by an estimated 20% to 4.6m hectares.

Pakistan plantings for 2017/18 are expected to increase by 24% to 3.1m hectares after several years of declining area, with an anticipated 24% growth in production to 2.06m tonnes.

Meanwhile, production is also projected to increase in all other major producing countries during 2017/18, including China, Brazil, Francophone Africa and Turkey.

Cotton mill use

The forecast from the inter-governmental group also sees global cotton mill use increase at an improved growth rate of 3% during 2017/18 reaching 25.2m tonnes. Mill use in China is projected to grow by 1% to 8.12m tonnes. Cotton mill use is also projected to grow moderately in India, Pakistan, Turkey, Bangladesh, Vietnam and Brazil.  

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By GlobalData

While mill use is rising, stocks will continue to grow as production outpaces consumption. Imports by China are expected to remain steady as the stock to use ratio decreases.

The gap between cotton prices and polyester prices has continued to narrow since mid-2017 despite a recent upturn in cotton prices that may push cotton consumption higher. 

The midpoint of the Cotlook A Index in 2017/18 still seen at 72 cents a pound – up from 69 cents a pound forecast two months ago, and 13 cents a pound lower than in 2016/17.