Creating a fully visible supply chain for agricultural products, like cotton, has created problems for textile producers. Businesses continue to invest in sustainable and ethical sources of cotton of a high quality, only to see markets flooded with products that have been “greenwashed” with false labels or mixed with lower quality fibers. Ultimately, cotton producers have been left wondering whether sustainability can be profitable in this confusing climate.
Coming up with an answer to this problem is the next horizon in raw material sourcing, and in today’s podcast episode, we speak with two business leaders who have been able to crack the code. Using DNA tagging they’ve found a way to ensure consumers actually get what they pay for.
David Greenstein of Himatsingka, one the largest cotton wholesalers in the United States, and chairman of the California Cotton Growers Association, Cannon Michael, join us for the episode. Michael is also the head of Bowles Farming Company, a large producer of Pima Cotton. Greenstein and Michael are partners in the production of Pimacott, Himatsingka’s patented Pima Cotton varietal that can be traced, genetically, from the cotton gin to the shelves of your local retailer.
Below are some excerpts from their conversation.
Greenstein on visiting a cotton farm for the first time after more than 30 years in the industry:
“It was a very visceral and emotional experience for me, because all these years I had been involved with cotton, but I had never been on a cotton farm. I’d never appreciated what went into actually raising a cotton crop. I’d never really truly understood the values of different practices and different regionalities and different varietals of cotton. And I also [didn’t have] a good understanding of what actually makes cotton farmers tick. Like, what’s important to them? And, how could we work better to make sure they get what is important to them while they give us what is important to us—which is a long-term, sustainable supply.”
Michael on the value of Pimacott and the struggles of a modern cotton farmer:
“It’s hard to have this high-level of traceability. And I would say, from a farmer’s standpoint, every crop that we grow is unique and important to us. I know the average public is a little bit removed from what we do as farmers, but we put a lot of care and concern and money into growing each crop that we grow. And, the idea that when it would leave our farm that it would somehow become adulterated and blended obviously is something that is very disconcerting, especially as a farmer that is able to grow a unique product and does so with the highest level of care and concern both for the environment and for our workers.”