Global retail sales of organic cotton apparel and home textile products reached a record $3.2 billion in 2008, representing a 63 percent increase from the $1.9 billion market in 2007, according to the Organic Cotton Market Report 2007-2008 released this week.
The Organic Exchange, which released the report this week, said the leading organic cotton retailers in the United States are Wal-Mart, Anvil Knitwear, Nike, Pottery Barn, and Greensource.
The top organic cotton retailers internationally included C&A (Belgium), H&M (SE), Zara (Spain), Coop Switzerland, and Hess Natur (Germany).
Despite the global retail outlook, most brands and retailers selling organic cotton products remain committed to their sustainability plans and upbeat about market growth with plans to expand their product lines 24 percent in 2009, to build an estimated $4 billion market in 2009.
“It is a sign of the times that despite ominous financial forecasts, brands and retailers are standing fast to their commitment to making their product lines more sustainable by ever increasing their use of organic cotton and other organic fibers such as wool, linen, and silk,” said LaRhea Pepper, Organic Exchange senior director.
The amount of organic cotton farmers grew worldwide in 2007/08 increased 152 percent, according to OE’s Organic Cotton Farm and Fiber Report 2008, organic cotton production increased to 145,872 metric tons (MT) (668,581 bales) grown in 22 countries worldwide.
OE notes that during 2008, certified organic cotton fibre supplies grew by 95 percent, significantly higher than annual growth rates of 45 percent in 2006 and 53 percent in 2007.
Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes soil fertility without the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers or genetically-modified seeds.