Organic Cotton Industry - Cotton Shortage

14th May 2021

Maggie’s Organics has been offering comfortable and functional clothing made from organically grown cotton for nearly thirty years.  We have always been committed to a truly fair and transparent relationship with all of our producers. That is why we pay advance deposits to our farmers and work to develop special projects like our Knapsack program to assist our farmers in developing additional income sources.

This year, on top of all the extra stresses affecting our production, three new situations have arisen that we wanted our consumers to be aware of:

1.  For many years we have heard rumors that much of the organic cotton in India was fraudulent. An investigation into organic cotton fraud in India has revealed 20,000 metric tons of cotton were incorrectly certified as organic through a scam. This is why we at Maggie’s make sure to meet our farmers directly, review all certificates carefully, and know and trust our entire supply chain.

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), through their own investigation, has finally obtained substantial evidence confirming this rumor of systematic fraud. During surveillance audits by GOTS, they detected fake Raw Cotton Transaction Certificates. The result is that approximately 80% of the “organic” cotton in India has been decertified. In fact, there are only two projects left that have not been decertified, and these are the two we work with at Maggie’s Organics.

2.  In China, hundreds of thousands of Uighurs and other minorities have allegedly been forced into hard, manual labor in the vast cotton fields of its western region of Xinjiang, which produces 17% if the world’s organic cotton. Due to these allegations, sweeping bans by the United States and Europe on the cotton originating in the Xinjiang region, have made China’s organic cotton suddenly unavailable.

We emphasize that NONE of Maggie’s cotton has been affected by either of these situations and our contracts are safe. In fact, if anything, our farmers stand to make more money as worldwide supply decreases. We are already paying 10% more than previously, and we expect prices to increase again this fall.

3.  Back in the United States, where we make our socks, we have had other issues specifically related to the pandemic. Devastation of the global economy forced millions of workers out of jobs. With the CARES Act, Unemployment benefits were expanded giving the skilled knitters and dyers, that make our socks, an incentive to “stay home”. In an industry like ours which has been devastate by offshore competition, skilled craftspeople are tough to replace.

As you can see the organic cotton industry undoubtedly has challenges, but we are committed to continuing to make clothing the Maggie’s Way: ethical, sustainable, and transformative. It is the only way to make fair trade garments and keep our quality and pricing fair for our customers, as well as our partners.