Cotton Council International (CCI), the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council of America (NCC), is a non-profit trade association that promotes U.S cotton fiber and manufactured cotton products around the globe with the COTTON USA™ trademark. CCI works with spinning mills, fabric and garment manufacturers, brands, retailers, textile associations, governments and the USDA to facilitate the use of U.S cotton. CCI’s mission is to make U.S. cotton the preferred fiber for mills/manufacturers, brands/retailers and consumers, commanding a value-added premium that delivers profitability across the U.S cotton industry and drives export growth of fiber, yarn and other cotton products.
Recently, William R. Bettendorf, Director, Supply Chain Marketing, South and Southeast Asia, CCI, and Joerg Bauersachs, Head of CCI Technical Services, visited Bangladesh. They came to provide technical support for their licensees. Textile Focus Editor M A Islam Riyadh had a courtesy conversation with them. They have discussed the specialty of U.S. cotton and overall service support for Bangladeshi spinners. Key discussion points are mentioned below for our readers-
Bangladesh spinning industry has become more sophisticated for business
William R. Bettendorf, Director, Supply Chain Marketing, South and Southeast Asia, Cotton Council International
Textile Focus: How do you see the recent cotton market?
William R. Bettendorf: I see the cotton market is in a good position. Our production in the United States is up by a significant amount. We have sold much of this year’s crop already, but the main challenge we are facing is the container problem. We can’t deliver the cotton to the customer as the supply chain is broken. The spinning community is very concerned about this issue. It’s frustrating that we have cotton but can’t deliver it to the mills. The Bangladeshi textile manufacturers are stuck in the middle. Brands and retailers are putting so much pressure on them. However, the cotton demand is fine in the market. As far as the U.S. is concerned about cotton, we would love to sell it to Bangladesh, that’s why we are here to meet the Bangladesh spinning industry and remind them about the benefits of using U.S. cotton.
We have our local agency here, of course, Atiya Consultancy led by Mr. Ali Arsalan and Mr. Jamil Ansari. They are doing an amazing job here for U.S. cotton. We want to develop more business in Bangladesh. This week we conducted three different seminars designed to be in small groups for more collaborative interaction.
Textile Focus: What is your observation regarding the recent cotton and yarn price hike?
William R. Bettendorf: The cotton price for yarn is great for spinners now. I think here people from the spinning industry are happy with that. But you know, this business is a cycle. We don’t know when the price will change. So let’s make good business while we can. Do you know the saying, “save your pennies for a rainy day”? Now spinners are at the top of the market but eventually, it will change. However, I am happy for the spinners in Bangladesh; they have big plans for increasing capacity. So we are very excited about that. U.S. cotton can help to satisfy that demand. I think the expansion plans will require an additional 1.5 million cotton bales. So that will make Bangladesh one of the largest cotton importers.
Textile Focus: Why should buyers and manufacturers choose U.S. cotton?
William R. Bettendorf: I think U.S. cotton has multiple benefits:
- Quality- We value quality and efficiency for our customers. We believe in constant innovation. Through this we have leveraged technology to help advance more efficient seed varieties, 100% mechanical cotton harvesting, and improved ginning processes for virtually contamination-free cotton. We believe that in order to get quality output, you need quality input.
- You get what you buy– Every bale of cotton has a Permanent Bale Identification (PBI) number. With this, manufacturers will have all the quality parameters of the cotton fiber in the bale.
- Availability– We have a lot of cotton to sell, and we can meet your demand. We are available 365 days a year, we are not seasonal. We can ship 12 months in the year.
- U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®- No other cotton supplier nation in the world can provide such support to international brands and retailers. We meet demands of buyers and retailers such as transparency, sustainability, data regarding water and soil erosion savings. If Bangladesh spinners use U.S. cotton then they can also meet the sustainability and traceability requirements of the brands and retailers.
- COTTON USA SOLUTIONS®- It’s our after-sales service. All the technical services are provided free if any customers meet two criteria- they must be a COTTON USA™ licensee and a member of the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®.
Textile Focus: Could you please brief the cotton supply chain- from cultivation to shipping to Bangladesh?
William R. Bettendorf: Cotton from the field goes to the gin where it is cleaned and baled. The PBI tag is attached to the bale and two cotton samples from the same bale are sent to USDA for classification. Then the bales go to the warehouse and the exporter sells the cotton. The cotton is transported to the port and shipped. Before the pandemic, delivery time was approximately six weeks for shipping to Bangladesh. However, with the global pandemic and congested ports, it takes more time to deliver to Bangladesh.
Textile Focus: How do you consider the Bangladesh market?
William R. Bettendorf: It’s a great market. Bangladesh is one of the best markets for us. That’s why we are here. I think the future of Bangladesh textiles is very prospective. It has become much more sophisticated than in the past. The mills are now in a profitable situation so they will invest more in better technology and systems to compete with global standards, I believe. And there is no question on what Bangladesh is doing. It’s a booming market.
With our services, we help mills to become more profitable.
Joerg Bauersachs, Head of CCI Technical Services, Cotton Council International
Textile Focus: How do you consider the Bangladesh market?
Joerg Bauersachs: Bangladesh is a big player in the textile industry worldwide. Bangladesh has a history of 40+ years in this industry. Bangladesh can be somewhat compared to Pakistan in terms of spinning. Both countries have some similarities in maturity, environment, and climate. Bangladesh started with garment making and then moved into backward integration like spinning, weaving or dyeing, and finishing, while Pakistan started mainly with spinning and then developed downstream processes up to garment making. Bangladesh has a slight advantage in terms of labor cost compared to Pakistan and other countries with a strong textile industry. However, it seems that Pakistani mills are a bit more productive because of the higher grade of automation, especially in the ring-spinning sector. It is in this productivity area where Bangladesh needs to improve. Bangladeshi technical experts are more reserved about their technical activities, including spindle productivity, compared to Pakistan.
Textile Focus: How do you synchronize service from the USA to Bangladesh thru your local agent?
Joerg Bauersachs: The communication channel is the same as in all of our other markets. As anywhere else, we also have our own local representative here in Bangladesh. Our representatives are responsible for the marketing part. We promote U.S. cotton to the spinners, but U.S. cotton is sold only by the merchants and cooperatives. We educate our potential customers about the advantages of using U.S. cotton. In this communication channel, our representative informs me about a COTTON USA™ licensee that needs our support. In a first step, we conduct a technical mill survey to identify areas of improvement in the mill. In a second step, I deploy one of our team members for field service and the consultant will take necessary actions to solve the issues that have been raised. After six months the consultant will return for a follow-up visit. We call this 1:1 Mill Consult, one of the initiatives under our COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ program.
Textile Focus: Any message to the industry?
Joerg Bauersachs: My message is to simply follow what other mills in Bangladesh are doing already. Our services come free of charge for COTTON USA™ licensees that also have signed up for the U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol®. I can only convey the message to all Bangladeshi spinners: process greater than 50% of U.S. cotton in one product line, become a COTTON USA™ licensee and sign up for the Trust Protocol. This way you will be able to benefit from the entire program that we are offering under our COTTON USA SOLUTIONS™ campaign. With our services, we help mills to become more profitable. That is our single goal! It’s not about making yarn, it’s about making money.