Wal-Mart Boosts Organic Cotton

Wal-Mart Boosts Organic Cotton

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Though wearing cotton seems like a natural way to live, the growing of cotton is an environmentally destructive industry using more pesticides and fertilizers than any other crop harvested. Now, Wal-Mart’s entry into the organic cotton market gives green farmers a big lift…
Wal-Mart is not an innovator in organic cotton….

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Patagonia converted its entire sportswear line to organic 10 years ago. Nike promoted organic cotton, so did Eileen Fisher and Timberland. Retail sales of organic cotton doubled, from $245 million in 2001 to $583 million in 2005.

But, some farmers who converted to organic methods, which can cost more, could not find buyers willing to pay a premium. They were forced to sell their crop into the conventional cotton market at lower prices.

Wal-Mart’s entry has changed the game. Five years ago, global production of organic cotton amounted to about 6,400 metric tons. In 2006, Wal-Mart and Sams Club will use about 6,800 metric tons. "They will be the largest buyer, by far," says Klein.

Just as important, Wal-Mart has made a verbal five-year commitment to buy organic cotton, giving farmers the assurance they need to produce it. (Fortune)

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