The Better Cotton 2021 annual report revealed that in the 2020-21 season, the program reached more than 2.9 million cotton farmers in 26 countries, growing 4.7 million tons of Better Cotton and accounting for 10 percent of global cotton production.
In 2021, Better Cotton’s membership base surpassed 2,400 members in 63 countries, a 14 percent increase over 2020. These retailer and brand members, 55 percent of which now use the Better Cotton “on product” mark, sourced 2.5 million tons of Better Cotton, making up 10 percent of global cotton production, a 47 percent rise compared to 2020 sourcing volumes.
There was also a 35 percent increase in the number of non-member suppliers–including ginners, traders, spinners, fabric mills, garment and end-product manufacturers, and sourcing agents–using the Better Cotton Platform, taking the total number of suppliers in the wider network to nearly 10,000.
“We can all agree that 2021 was a challenging year, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and growing climate and biodiversity challenges,” said Alan McClay, Better Cotton CEO. “However, we remained steadfast in our commitment and purpose to promote more sustainable cotton production. Of the year’s many highlights, I’m proud to share that the Better Cotton program continued to grow and deliver impact where it mattered most.”
The report dives into the launch of Better Cotton’s 2030 Strategy and key focus areas and priorities for Better Cotton in 2021. It notes that agriculture has a role to play in reducing emissions and the potential to store large quantities of atmospheric carbon in the soil. In 2021, Better Cotton introduced its climate mitigation target–by 2030, the program aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions per ton of Better Cotton produced by 50 percent compared to a 2017 baseline.
Better Cotton is also developing a comprehensive four-year activity plan and detailed budget for introducing traceability into the Better Cotton network. Its top priority is to find ways to make this work deliver what consumers want in terms of traceability and what farmers need to achieve a thriving market.
In addition, last year Better Cotton invested time and resources into research to better understand what farmers need and want, whether Better Cotton is delivering on this, and how to further improve its offering for farmers and their communities.
Plus, a newly formed Traceability Panel invested over 1 million pounds ($1.22 million) in supply chain innovations.
Last year also saw the first harvest of Better Cotton in Egypt, with 1,000 tons grown by 1,500 licensed farmers. In Greece, the first harvest of Better Cotton took place and 11 licensed farmers produced 23,000 tons of Better Cotton. The Israel Cotton Production and Marketing Board became a strategic partner following the successful benchmarking of its Israel Cotton Production Standard with the Better Cotton Standard System.