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Supima’s Latest Effort to Make Cotton Origin Verifiable

Retailers and consumer that pay a premium for Supima cotton can now be certain they’re getting the real thing.

Supima, which represents the more than 500 U.S. family farmers that grow the superior grade cotton, has partnered with Oritain Global Ltd., an international forensic science firm, to provide a testing platform to identify and verify the origins of Supima cotton.

In partnership with Supima, Oritain will use its scientific technology to measure the naturally occurring elements that exist within the cotton fiber based on the geographical production area the cotton is grown in. The project will cover the entire American Pima cotton growing region and create a unique “fingerprint” for Supima cotton.

“The unique fingerprint analysis identifies different levels of chemical attributes that are found in the product itself and enables the cotton to be verified against its claimed origin,” Grant Cochrane, chief executive officer of Oritain, said. “This platform offers a solution to address the traceability challenges that have been faced by the global cotton industry in recent years.”

Buxton Midyette, vice president of marketing and promotion at Supima, told Sourcing Journal that the program also “keys into a broader movement about traceability, authenticity and verification that consumers today want.”

[Read more about Supima: Supima Design Competition Plants New Roots for Fashion]

As Cochrane noted, manufacturers, brand owners and retailers are increasingly focused on ensuring there’s transparency within their supply chains.

“A huge part of this is knowing and trusting where their product comes from,” he said. “This is of particular importance as brands make claims associated with provenance and want to be reassured their product–in this case, Supima cotton–isn’t being contaminated by inferior products coming from undesirable sources.”

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Midyette added that while there are other systems and companies that can track and trace cotton, “Oritain’s technology now enables Supima to be able to verify the origin of all U.S. grown American Pima cotton from over 500 family farms over the entire growing region.”

Supima’s supply chain partners like Everlane have asked for this capability, according to Midyette, to ensure the purity of their product and confirm they are getting what they pay for, since American pima cotton costs roughly twice as much as standard cotton and has a track record as a luxury fiber.

With a global licensing program spanning more than 40 countries and 400 licensees, Supima maintains an active network of industry participants dedicated to manufacturing and supplying some of the world’s finest textiles. Products for home and apparel are marketed by top brands and retailers as Supima-branded products to highlight the quality of the products made utilizing America’s premium cotton fiber.

“We know that the fashion industry is highly-motivated in the sustainability space and we are ideally positioned to help them ensure the integrity of their products, as sustainability compliance is closely intertwined with origin,” Cochrane added.

Marc Lewkowitz, CEO of Supima said the partnership with Oritain fulfils Supima’s decade-long objective to find a simple and natural way to use the fiber to verify provenance.

“We were impressed that Oritain doesn’t need to apply any identifier or tracer during the manufacturing or processing phases, which makes it a very simple solution to deploy from an operational perspective,” Lewkowitz said. “The Oritain methodology simply measures what is naturally inside the fiber.”

Oritain is a global leader in using forensic science to determine food, fiber and pharmaceutical provenance, is a private company with offices in Dunedin, London and Sydney.