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Both brands and consumers care about the origin of the products they buy regardless of price, but this is even more of a concern for higher-end goods. Premium raw materials command a bigger ticket price, and buyers want to know they are getting what they paid for.

Pima cotton organization Supima has been protecting its brand by authenticating goods through chain of custody tracking. Initially this was accomplished through paper trails, but Supima’s new AQRe (Authenticity, Quality and Responsibility) traceability program combines forensic testing from Oritain with TextileGenesis’ blockchain data management to digitalize this chain. By tracing and testing at the yarn, fabric and finished good stages, Supima has reached a 99.5 percent confidence level of its fiber authenticity. 

This traceability solution—which will cover every single product with the Supima trademark—prevents Supima from experiencing the same counterfeiting and falsification that has transpired in other premium fibers, such as organic and Egyptian cotton. “You don’t have to worry that it isn’t Supima,” said Buxton Midyette, vice president, marketing and promotion at Supima, in a fireside chat with Sourcing Journal’s sourcing and labor editor Jasmin Malik Chua. “In fact, the only people that should worry are people who are substituting other fibers for Supima, because we will catch you.”

AQRe also supports brands in proving and communicating about the responsible production behind their raw materials. All Supima cotton is cultivated in the United States, falling under strict legislation regarding environmental impact and worker welfare. While visibility has a sustainability storytelling benefit, it is also a must as a growing spate of due diligence legislation forces companies to know their suppliers.

Typically, when faced with a withhold release order from Customs, companies try to work backward from the finished product to prove the origin, but this method has limitations the further upstream you go. In contrast, by proactively tracing from the start, companies can easily see the full provenance of a good and easily access verification. “If there are any questions from Customs and Border Protection, they can answer those questions very quickly and clearly,” said Midyette.

“We really started off our journey focusing on authentication, that a shirt labeled as Supima is a Supima shirt,” Midyette added.” But we came to really appreciate that it wasn’t just about the product itself. Where it had been was also of at least equal importance.”

Watch the video above to learn how AQRe works and why Supima has invested in authentication. To hear more about “The Business Imperative of Traceability,” see Buxton Midyette speak at Sourcing Journal’s Sustainability Summit, now available on demand.