In 2019, 150 of the world’s most recognised retailers and brands collectively sourced more than 1.5 million metric tonnes of cotton as “Better Cotton’ – that is enough cotton to make approximately 1.5 billion pairs of jeans. The retailers, who are all members of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), hit a new sourcing milestone and sent a clear signal to the market that there is increasing demand for more sustainably grown cotton.

Uptake1 of Better Cotton – cotton produced by licensed BCI Farmers in line with the Better Cotton Principles and Criteriaincreased by 40% on the previous year. The volume sourced by BCI’s 150 Retailer and Brand Members in 2019 represents 6% of global cotton production2. By increasing sourcing commitments year-on-year and integrating Better Cotton into their sustainable sourcing strategies, BCI Retailer and Brand Members are driving demand for more sustainable cotton production worldwide.

Long-standing BCI Member Decathlon shared their thoughts on BCI and Better Cotton; ”While physical Better Cotton is not traceable to the end-product, what matters is that the funds channelled through BCI end up contributing to farmer training and expanding the network of cotton farmers who are improving their livelihoods, while protecting and restoring the environment.Decathlon has a target to source 100% more sustainable cotton by 2020 – this is a combination ofBetter Cotton together with organic and recycled cotton. This commitment has generatedahigh level of motivation internally at Decathlon. The BCI Team has also always been supportive of our journey, listeningto our needs and quickly responding to any challengeswe met,” says Nagy Bensid, Director Yarns and Fibres, Decathlon

BCI’s demand-driven funding model means that retailer and brand sourcing of Better Cotton directly translates into increased investment in training for cotton farmers on more sustainable practices. For example, in the 2018-19 cotton season, Retailer and Brand Members, public donors (DFAT) and IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative) contributed more than ‚Ǩ11 million to field-level projects, enabling more than 1.3 million cotton farmers in China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan and Mozambique to receive support, capacity building and training.3

BCI Supplier and Manufacturer Members also play a crucial role in increasing uptake as they bridge the gap between Better Cotton supply and demand. In 2019, suppliers and manufacturers sourced more than two million metric tonnes of cotton as Better Cotton, ensuring that there was enough supply available to meet retailers’ needs.

The retailers and brands, cotton traders and spinners who sourced the largest volumes of Better Cotton in 2019 will be revealed in the 2019 Better Cotton Leaderboard, launching at the 2020 Global Cotton Sustainability Conference in June. You can view the 2018 Leaderboard here.


1Uptake refers to the sourcing and purchasing of more sustainable cotton in a supply chain.By “sourcing cotton as Better Cotton,’ BCI is referring to the action taken by members when they place orders for cotton-containing products. It does not refer to the cotton present in the finished product. BCI uses a chain of custody model called Mass Balance whereby volumes of Better Cotton are tracked on an online sourcing platform. Better Cotton may be mixed with or replaced by conventional cotton in its journey from field to product, however, the volumes of Better Cotton claimed by members on the online platform never exceeds the volumes physically procured by spinners and traders.
2As per the global cotton production figures reported by ICAC. More information is availablehere.
3While the investment from BCI Retailer and Brand Members, public donors (DFAT), and IDH (the Sustainable Trade Initiative), mobilised through the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund, reached over 1.3 million farmers in the 2018-2019 season, the Better Cotton Initiativeis forecast to reach more than 2.5 million cotton farmers in the season. The final figures (including final licensing figures) will be released in spring 2020 in BCI’s 2019 Annual Report.

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