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….
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)