Working with farmers and other partners to improve sustainability across the cotton supply chain
Cotton is the most widely used natural fiber in the world, and it provides a livelihood for about 250 million people. Cotton has a variety of uses: fiber for textiles, cottonseed oil as a food ingredient, and meal and hulls from crushed cotton seeds in feed for livestock, poultry and fish.
As one of the world’s leading cotton traders, Cargill is committed to playing its role in improving sustainable cotton production practices around the world. Cargill is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and we are now one of the largest traders of BCI cotton.
We partner with others to help improve sustainable practices for cotton production and contribute to industry and sector research. These partnerships are helping to train farmers in best agricultural practices, provide them with access to markets, and support health and education programs in their communities. We also partner with other organizations to drive improvements across the cotton sector and encourage responsible labor practices.
Cargill has played a role in the cotton sector since 1976:
- Sourcing and merchandising: Our cotton trading business sources and merchandises cotton from major cotton-producing countries, and we have central trading offices in Memphis, U.S., and Liverpool, U.K., and additional offices in more than a dozen countries. We also have significant warehousing capacity in the U.S. and Brazil.
- Processing: In Zambia, our ginning operation gives us access to some of the highest-quality cotton in the world.
- Transporting: We connect origination and destination markets through a logistics network that includes trains, trucks and cargo ships.
Cotton as natural capital
In 2016, Cargill was one of seven leading global businesses in the cotton industry to accelerate action on natural capital to ensure a sustainable future for the sector. Cargill joined forces with social and environmental initiatives and cotton experts to produce a report that demonstrates the positive natural capital impacts of specific cotton production practices. The report "Threading natural capital into cotton: Doing business with nature," was published by the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), and outlines the actions needed to ensure positive impacts on natural capital. It presents 15 different management interventions in the cotton supply chain, focusing particularly on water, biodiversity and soil. More information available at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.