Patrick Laine, CEO of the Better Cotton Initiative, and Michael Kobori, Vice President of Sustainability at Levi Strauss & Co., spoke with Robert Antoshak, Managing Director of Olah Inc., about BCI and how it can benefit American cotton producers. The interview was conducted live for Ag Market Network on Thursday, 13 August 2015. It is archived on the Ag Market Network website and is available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
After the first year of its USA pilot programme, BCI plans to expand operations in the United States. Laine explained that the organisation’s motivation for doing so came from BCI brands and retailers.
“The reason we’re coming to the USA is because the customers of American cotton producers have asked us to,” said Laine.
One brand encouraging BCI to work in the United States is Levi Strauss & Co.
“By 2020, 75% of all the cotton that we use will be qualified as Better Cotton. As a huge user of US cotton, we’re definitely interested in getting the programme to US growers,” said Kobori.
For brands and retailers, demonstrating sustainable practices is increasingly important and many view responsible sourcing as smart business.
Kobori said, “That’s how our company views sustainability in general. It’s certainly a competitive advantage if you communicate it properly to the consumer, and it’s something that consumers are more and more aware of and want.”
Both acknowledged that US farmers are already some of the most advanced and socially responsible in the world. Laine explained that participation in the BCI programme gives American farmers a structured and legitimate framework allowing them to be recognised for the good work they’re already doing.
When asked if Better Cotton can give cotton a competitive advantage, Laine responded, “We provide brands strong, positive messages that are both credible and relevant to their businesses. That’s good news for the brands, that’s good news for the cotton industry.”