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Yarn Market
Clarence D. Rogers, Technical Editor

Conflict Between Cotton Producers And Yarn Spinners

Clarence D. Rogers, Technical Editor

A t a recent meeting with a group of cotton producers to improve dialogue, the discussion focused on the importance of fiber quality characteristics. Specifically, fiber characteristics that contribute to improvements in manufacturing performance and product quality, and at the same time lower cost for yarn spinners — thus providing a positive influence on company bottom line and customer satisfaction.

To help those in attendance appreciate the importance of short fiber content and trash content to yarn spinners, components from the Murata Vortex Spinner (MVS) were passed around. The spindle, needle and needle holder were carefully observed/discussed. It was emphasized that this system can’t handle and really doesn’t like short fibers, high micronaire or trashy cotton.

As you might expect, word came from the audience, “We can produce higher-quality cottons with improved fiber properties, if we are paid for them. Our objective is the same as the textile mill — to maximize profits. And for us right now, the best way to do that is to increase yield. The objective is dollars per acre.”

Needless to say, after decades of discussion, the cotton marketing system doesn’t seem to send the right signals from the spinner to the producer.

Producers can produce a higher-quality fiber if the incentive is there. Money provides the incentive and usually gets attention. Are mills getting what they pay for? Why can’t our leaders recognize that giving our producers an incentive to produce cottons with improved fiber quality characteristics contributes to performance improvements? One would expect better input would lead to bottom-line improvements.

Producers truly believe that mills want better fiber qualities. They also have learned that mills don’t want to pay for new cotton fibers. And spinners must be willing to pay for fiber that helps the bottom line. Varieties for these new cottons yield less lint per acre, and with the current marketing system, producer income would be reduced. Given this loss of income, these varieties will not be developed/produced.

Spinners know fiber properties influence performance, quality and cost at every process in the conversion of fibers into consumer products. There isn’t a process where better fiber properties have a negative impact. If this is the case, why can’t all segments in the pipeline work together, for the good of all?

It seems reasonable to think that if a supplier developed, created or produced something that would help make money or improve the bottom line, it would generate a lot of interest. Management of a company using this raw material would certainly want to explore the opportunities.

Cotton Situations
For the year 2001/02, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports a sharp reduction in domestic mill use, higher exports and increased ending stocks of cotton. Domestic mill consumption was reduced by 400,000 bales last month to 7.3 million — a 1.5 million-bale reduction compared to the 2000/01 total of 8.8 million. Exports were raised 200,000 bales to 10 million (6.7 million in 2000/01), and ending stocks were increased 200,000 to 8.8 million bales (6 million in 2000/01). Production was 20.08 million versus 17.19 million bales in 2000/01.

With this reduction in U.S. mill consumption, it is worth noting what annual changes have occurred in other countries. In Europe, there was a reduction of 270,000 bales. In the following countries, consumption increased: China (250,000 bales); Central Asia (30,000 bales); Turkey (150,000 bales); South Korea (100,000 bales); and Argentina (30,000 bales). Given these numbers and trends, what does the future hold?

Cotton prices moved up slightly from those reported last month. Quotation for the base grade in the seven designated markets averaged 32.73 cents per pound, up from 31.70 cents last month but down from 61.04 cents a year ago.

Looking Better
All respondents said things seem to be turning around. One responded, “I am more positive than at any time in the past several months. We have received some orders, so things are better for the present time. I don’t know what it will be like next month, but it is good to have these orders now.” Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

March 2002

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