World exports of denim fabric with a lower cotton content treble in five years
World exports of denim fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% trebled over the five years to 2014, according to a report in the latest issue of Global Apparel Markets from the business information company Textiles Intelligence. As a result, they reached a record high of US$1.7 billion. At the same time, exports of denim fabric with a cotton content of 85% or more declined over the five-year period, to US$2.9 billion.
The apparent shift in production to denim fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% was in response to a surge in the price of raw cotton in 2010 and early 2011, which led manufacturers to use a smaller proportion of cotton in their denim fabric products in order to control costs.
As a result, the share of world denim fabric exports accounted for by fabric with a cotton content of 85% or more fell from 83.9% to 62.7% between 2009 and 2014, while the share of denim fabric exports accounted for by fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% increased from 16.1% to 37.3%.
In China -- the world's largest exporter of denim fabric with a 36% share of world exports -- the shift to fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% was much greater than the shift towards such fabric globally.
Indeed, fabric with a cotton content of 85% or more accounted for only 35.2% of Chinese denim fabric exports in 2014 -- down from 72.1% in 2009. By contrast, the share of fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% increased from 27.9% to 64.8%.
This reflected the fact that domestic raw cotton prices in China in 2013 and early 2014 were higher than world prices.
In the second half of 2014, however, there was a fall in the domestic price of cotton in China following a change in Chinese government policy. Furthermore, the Chinese government announced in June 2015 that it planned to start selling off a large portion of its stockpile and this is expected to reduce domestic prices further.
As a result, Chinese exports of denim fabric with a cotton content of 85% or more -- and, indeed, world exports of such fabric -- could rebound somewhat in the coming years provided the price of raw cotton remains low.
That said, the average price of crude oil has also fallen sharply and this should help synthetic fibre producers to maintain low prices and hence remain competitive.
Consequently, provided crude oil and synthetic fibre prices remain low, trade in denim fabric with a cotton content of less than 85% should also remain buoyant.
"International trade in denim fabric and denim jeans" was published by the global business information company Textiles Intelligence in Issue No 29 of Global Apparel Markets.
Other reports published in the same issue include: "Talking strategy: Peter Needle of Segura Systems discusses the increasing demand for transparent apparel supply chains"; "Product developments and innovations"; "Trade and trade policy: the US clothing import market"; and "Business update". Global Apparel Markets is a quarterly publication from Textiles Intelligence. Each issue provides an independent and worldwide perspective on the global apparel industry.
A year's printed subscription to Global Apparel Markets costs £750 (UK), Euro1,310 (other Europe, Middle East or Africa) or US$1,695 (Americas or Asia Pacific). An electronic supplement is also available. Single issues are available on request.
For further information, please contact Belinda Carp at Textiles Intelligence, Alderley House, Wilmslow SK9 1AT, UK.
For press copies and editorial enquiries, please contact Robin Anson at Textiles Intelligence.