October 12 2016
Cotton economist talks yoga pants: 'We have a demand problem'
By JOSIE MUSICO
Issues related to a global cotton surplus have not changed significantly in the past few years.
The bigger problem seems to be on the demand side, Joe Nicosia said.
Nicosia, executive vice president of the Louis Dreyfus Company, is concerned about difficulty competing with synthetic fabrics.
“Our demon today is polyester,” he told Plains Cotton Growers via teleconference.
An observation of female shoppers supports the economist’s worries: all of them seem to be wearing yoga pants. Women’s fashion trends show that type of legwear’s popularity quickly reaching that of cotton-based jeans, he said. In girls’ clothing, yoga pants and leggings are out-selling jeans at an even higher rate.
“This is the next consumer for the next 15 years, and we already lost them,” he said. “We’ve got a big job ahead of us to reestablish cotton as the fabric of choice.”
Lamesa-area farmer Shawn Holladay asked if cotton could appear more in blended fabrics.
Nicosia’s short answer: “Yes.”
If consumers aren’t interested in 100-percent-cotton T-shirts, he suggested pursuing a smaller presence. Think of the 50 cotton/50 poly labels you’ve probably seen, for example.
“We need to get into these products, and then we could bring our blend level up,” he said.
Plains Cotton Growers has long encouraged supporters of area cotton to check clothing labels for that fabric when they shop.
As for cotton’s supply, more than a few bales still remain in China. That country began raising eyebrows a few years ago for stockpiling millions of bales, creating a global surplus.
Lately, they’ve released some.
Nicosia: “They’ve begun to change their policy — they’re selling their reserves.”
For the most part, sitting idle did not hurt quality of those bales, he added.
Between those reserves and its domestic supply, China has fallen behind Bangladesh and Vietnam in the U.S.’s cotton export market. Still, Nicosia is optimistic about a recovery.
“China’s gonna need more imports eventually,” he said. “It’s gonna take a while, but we’re gonna get there.”
In other business, Plains Cotton Growers’ Kody Bessent listed some political updates. The legislative affairs spokesman pointed out significantly more U.S. congressional districts are located in soybean or corn country than cotton, leaving cotton without the same representation.
“We’re just not in the same playing field,” he said.
Meanwhile, all eyes are on the election.
Bessent: “There’s twists and turns. The point is to be engaged, to see what’s going on and, quite frankly, to vote.”