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Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The Rupp Report: Sticky And Other Cotton Problems

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

According to a report from the Switzerland-based International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF), foreign matter, stickiness and seed-coat fragments in raw cotton are still severe challenges for the worldwide cotton spinning industry. This is in a nutshell the summary of a survey called “Cotton Contamination Survey 2007.” In the 2007 report, 114 spinning mills located in 23 countries evaluated 72 different cotton growths.

The “Cotton Contamination Survey” is released every two years. The 2007 edition is the tenth in the series since the changeover to a new methodology in 1989.

The level of cottons modestly or seriously contaminated as perceived by spinning mills from around the world did not increase compared to the last survey in 2005, remaining constant at 22 percent each. The extent of the contamination shows that 7 percent of all cotton evaluated in both surveys was seriously contaminated by some sort of foreign matter, whereas 15 percent was only moderately contaminated. Because the summary data are mathmatical averages, the extent of contamination is fully illustrated only by the results for the individual contaminants.

They range from 5 percent for tar to 40 percent of all cottons processed contaminated with organic matter, such as leaves, feathers, paper and leather. With respect to the extent of contamination through organic matter, it is meaningful to note the degree of contamination increased nevertheless due to the fact that more cottons were affected seriously — 13 percent in 2007 versus 8 in 2005 — and less, moderately — 27 percent in 2007 versus 32 percent in 2005 — compared to the last survey.

Other serious contaminants are fabrics made of plastic film or cotton, 30 percent each, and strings made of plastic film or jute/hessian, 29 percent each. The most contaminated cotton descriptions originated in India, Togo, Turkey, Mali and Uzbekistan. In contrast, very clean raw cottons were produced in the United States — including Memphis, Texas High Plains, others, Southeastern, California and Pima — as well as in Australia, Israel, Brazil and Cameroon.

Stickiness The Major Challenge
The presence of sticky cotton as perceived by spinning mills increased in 2007 to 21 percent after having fallen to 17 percent in 2005 — the lowest level since 1989. This level of stickiness is in line with the long-term average and shows that stickiness remains a major challenge for the spinning industry. Descriptions that were affected most by stickiness were those from Benin, Cameroon and Uzbekistan (medium staples). Also, US cotton growths such as USA-others, Pima and California were reported to be sticky. On the other hand, cottons from Greece, India (H-4 and others), Turkey (Izmir), Egypt (Giza) and Zimbabwe, as well as US cotton growths including Southeastern or Texas High Plains were not or were hardly affected by stickiness.

Seed-Coat Fragments

With regard to seed-coat fragments, the 2007 survey shows that their appearance in cotton growths remained an issue for the spinners around the world, with 37 percent claiming they have encountered them in the cotton growths consumed. This is the same level as was reached in 2005 and is equivalent to the long-term average.

The origins affected most by seed-coat fragments are those from India (LRA, J-34, others), Uzbekistan (medium staples), Chad, Benin, Turkmenistan (medium staples) and Ivory Coast. Cotton descriptions for which the presence of seed-coat fragments was negligible — that is prevalence of less than 25 percent — included those from the United States (Texas High Plains, California, Arizona, others, Pima), Australia, Egypt (Giza), Greece and Cameroon.

These and other subjects of the international cotton trade will be top issues discussed at the next international cotton conference which will take place in Bremen, Germany, April 2-5, 2008. The organizers are expecting some 650 participants from 40 countries. More information is available at www.baumwollboerse.de.

March 4, 2008