Insider Views on Organic Cotton Trade and Market

Mar 7, 2012 3:15 PM ET

Original posting on Textile Exchange

Carl Pepper, returns to the subject of organic cotton markets. Carl reveals how his business risks are reduced through direct communication, out of the box thinking, and long term business security.

Growing cotton organically has its unique set of issues that challenge us as farmers.  Most know and understand the on-farm production concerns of weather, weeds, insects, equipment, and labor.  I want to address the issue of market stability.

My greatest fear is to do all the right things to produce a crop and not have anyone want to buy it.  This fear comes from the fact that my entire farm is rain fed. This means my yields vary widely and unpredictably. I understand that buyers and manufacturers need a steady, consistent supply to make their business run.  That is the big obstacle that seems, at times, insurmountable.

The solution for my operation has come in the form of communication and trusting relationships with buyers.  The start was an honest face to face meeting with the major user of our cotton, Anvil Knitwear, in which we laid the cards on the table for all to see. 

They explained how they could make adjustments in programs and blends, and communicate with retailers on our behalf to keep a steady demand for a varying supply. We farmers recognized the need to communicate changing crop conditions so the customers have as much lead time as possible to adjust to supply changes.  This was, to be blunt, outside the box thinking.  They were willing to adapt, just like I have to do with each new weather event I face on the farm.  We are farming together.

The change was a move from the "I" perspective to the "We".  The obstacles facing organic cotton production can be overcome when we reach the point where we have business and personal relationships that are built on a foundation of truth and trust. 

It is a great feeling knowing my buyers are up late at night watching the radar to see if it is raining on my farm. It makes me sleep better.


About Anvil Knitwear
Anvil Knitwear, Inc., a century old apparel brand, is a leader in the sustainable apparel industry with its AnvilOrganic® and AnvilSustainable™ brands. AnvilOrganic® has been ranked in the top ten largest organic programs worldwide by the Textile Exchange for the last three years. In addition to sustainable apparel, Anvil focuses on consumer education via interactive platforms, including, which chronicles the life cycle of a t-shirt from seed to store. For more information, please visit

Original posting on Textile Exchange