Global Markets Obvious

otton prices continue to tumble, as expected by those in the know. One respondent said, “
Cotton markets don’t look pretty. In fact, we had a seasonal daily low of 38.65 cents per pound.”

Asked if cotton farmers would plant cotton at those prices, he said, “Cotton may be bad, but
not as bad as other commodity crops.” Farmers will, therefore, probably plant cotton.

Cotton pricing is of concern to spinners as well. Not from the same perspective as that of
farmers, of course, but from the attitude of their customers. “When customers see raw cotton
pricing fall, they expect an immediate decrease in the price of their yarn. They simply don’t
understand that we are still using fiber that cost us 60 cents per pound. We will be all right when
we start using the cheaper cotton.” Of course, he was referring to margins that lately have been
leaning to the red, but would move to the black side of the ledger.

Pricing Problems

The continuing lackluster markets have caused yarn prices to drop dramatically. As one cotton
spinner observed, “Volume is slow, and pricing is about 80 to 85 percent of normal. All of our
sales are spots. I really feel that the second half will be better than the first.”

Texturizers say, “Our volume is OK, but pricing is terrible. A lot of our customers are in
real difficulty financially, which causes business to be so flat.” The sad thing about it is that
no turn-around is expected anytime soon. An expected reduction in capacity of textured yarns may
cause markets to “tighten up,” but that remains to be seen.

“Imports are killing us!” was the cry of virtually everyone. One spinner lamented, “We can no
longer compete! We used to have a month or two lead time, but now the importers are storing the
stuff and are still able to offer it at prices often less than we paid for our raw cotton.”

Synthetic spinners report that, while this is typically the season for sales to skyrocket and
production operations to require Sunday production, it hasn’t happened. One spinner said, “ Acrylic
business is not what we expected. We are closer to getting our asking prices, and this month is
better than last month, but we don’t know what will happen after July 4th. All markets are
short-term, where the customer decides to move, moves quickly, and wants two-day delivery.” Sound

Bright Spots

However, all is not bad. While some segments are doing awful, others are doing very well. Those
that are doing well are working hard to improve what they do, changing production into special
products or focusing on niche markets. One weaver said, “Business is very good. I can’t produce
enough yarn to keep all of my looms running at full capacity. I am buying yarn to help out in
weaving. The future looks good, so we are planning to increase our yarn production. We are
considering buying more yarn-production machinery to support weaving.”

One polyester spinner for the knitting trade said, “Business is pretty good. We are running a
full schedule and are backed up a little. And the feeling is, if you have something that is going
good, don’t talk about it very much, and certainly don’t get into any specifics. If you do, you may
end up losing in the marketplace.”

“There is some improvement in coarse- and medium-count plied yarns for both ring and
open-end,” responded another spinner. “My plant is running seven days a week, 168-hour schedule. We
think that our success can be credited to a very diverse product line and willingness to accept
small orders.”

A spinner of medium-count knitting yarns said, “Things are better in this area than they are
in weaving. Prices are soft, compared to last year, but they are still holding. The most important
thing for us is that prices are still there. Overall, we have cut back a little, and our production
is down. However, this decrease compares to the last couple of years, when we were running full

Here is an opportunity for a wool spinner/weaver: it has been reported the Army refuses to
wear wool berets made in China. Is there enough of the wool industry left to fill this need? It
does point out one difficulty we may have if the domestic textile industry is forced out of

One yarn man expressed the feelings of many textile people by saying, “I try to be
optimistic. Sooner or later, customers will have to start buying again.” Hopefully, that time is

July 2001