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From Farm To Fabric: The Many Faces Of Cotton - The 74th Plenary Meeting of the International Cotton Advisory Committee (ICAC)
12/06/2015 - 12/11/2015

Capstone Course On Nonwoven Product Development
12/07/2015 - 12/11/2015

2nd Morocco International Home Textiles & Homewares Fair
03/16/2016 - 03/19/2016

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Signs Of Tightening

Alfred Dockery, Technical Editor

F or a number of months spinners have been reporting strong demand for carded and combed ring-spun yarns. Other spinning systems haven’t been as fortunate. Now it appears demand for open-end yarns may finally be starting to rise.

“If spinners aren’t getting better prices for ring-spun, they ought to be shot,” said an industry observer. “I’m sure that the other spinners are not satisfied with the prices they are getting.”

“All of a sudden it looks like there is tightness in the open-end market,” said a multisystem spinner. “I never expected it. I assume that the production that has been taken out of market is starting to have an impact. We traditionally start seeing an uptick around September or October anyway to replenish the T-shirt market. It really kicked in the last few weeks.”

A second multisystem spinner who produces primarily for apparel also reported signs of strengthening open-end pricing. However, an open-end spinner with considerable business in home furnishings was not experiencing any upswing in prices.

“You would have thought with all of the closings that you would get a decent price for the product,” he said. “There is still a lot of competition even for what’s left out there.”

Reported running conditions ranged from “all plants running 24/7” to “pretty steady” to “a little sluggish in the last couple of weeks.”

From Quarters To Weeks

Some spinners were comfortable projecting out through the fourth quarter. Others said their visibility was at best week-to-week.

“Right now it looks like the fourth quarter is going to be okay, but it will slow,” said a multisystem spinner. “We are not foolish enough to think we will continue to see the same demand we have right now into the holiday season, but it looks a little better than last year. I attribute it to production being taken out of market.”

“Our customers can’t really tell us what they are going to be needing,” said an open-end spinner. “It goes back to the retailers. They pick up the phone and call our customers, and the hunt is on. Sometimes the retailers pick up the phone and cancel the order too. That happened to one of our customers recently.” 

The Polyester Pendulum

The big question mill managers currently are struggling with is, What will happen with polyester prices?

“We have seen polyester prices shoot up for the last two months,” noted a ring spinner. “We are still waiting to see if there will be another price increase for October. Cotton has been fairly stable.”

With both oil and natural gas prices coming down, some spinners wonder if they shouldn’t be seeing a drop in polyester prices.

“I hope these factors bring polyester back down,” said one spinner.

Comparing Knits And Wovens

On the knit side, spinners are scrambling to position themselves with the big knitters like Hanes, Fruit of the Loom and Gildan, among others, due to recent closings and consolidations, according to an industry observer. Another major emphasis for sales yarn spinners is to take advantage of Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement legislation. He also noted the weaving industry is leaving this country at a rapid pace.

“This year, Springs, Avondale and WestPoint [Home] all announced closures,” he said. “ Shortly, there will be no more sheeting produced in the United States. Some of the closures you expected, some you didn’t, but there will be more.”

US Cotton Quantity And Quality

According to the US Department of Agriculture’s October Crop Production report, the 2006 US cotton crop is now forecast at about 20.7 million bales — 1.5 percent above the previous month, but still nearly 14 percent below last season’s record. The upland crop is forecast at 19.9 million bales — up 335,000 bales from September, while the extra-long staple (ELS) production is projected at 804,000 bales — 21,000 bales lower than last month.

Below-average crop conditions have been recorded throughout the season, and, as of October 8, 31 percent of the crop is rated poor or very poor, while only 40 percent is rated in good or excellent condition.

World cotton production is expected to rise 2 million bales in 2006-07 to 116 million. Consumption is expected to rise 5 million bales, to 121 million. This would be a 4.4 percent increase in consumption. Global ending stocks are expected to fall 2.5 million bales, to 52 million. A 2.3 million-bale decline also is foreseen for world trade in 2006-07, with a substantial portion of that decline resulting from lower imports by China. At 18.5 million bales, China's imports are expected to account for 44 percent of world trade in 2006-07, about the same as in 2005-06.

October 2006

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