World Cotton Production and Mill Use: from This Season to the Next

Date Posted: 01 May, 2013

An estimated 34.1 million hectares of cotton are being harvested in 2012/13, 5% below the previous season; another 5% drop to 32.2 million hectares is forecast in 2013/14. Accordingly, global cotton production is estimated down 5% from 27.8 million tons to 26.3 million tons this season, and world production is forecast to drop another 6% to 24.6 million tons during 2013/14. From 2012/13 to 2013/14, cotton production in China and the United States is each forecast to fall by 700,000 tons to 6.7 million tons and 3 million tons respectively, and production in India is forecast to decline by 170,000 tons to 5.7 million tons as farmers continue to switch out cotton for more profitable alternatives. China’s production decline is also attributed to labor shortages as farm workers migrate to cities searching for urban employment.

Global cotton mill use is rising an estimated 7% from 22.1 million tons last season to 23.7 million tons in 2012/13, and mill use is projected to rise another 2% to 24.3 million tons in 2013/14. Mill use in China is falling to an estimated 8.3 million tons in 2012/13 as the national cotton policy remains unclear, and another drop of 300,000 tons to 8.0 million tons in 2013/14 is expected, the lowest in 10 years. Imports by China are estimated at 3.7 million tons in 2012/13 and 3 million tons in 2013/14. Because of the Chinese national cotton reserve policy, a seismic shift in the location of world cotton use is underway. Decreased mill use in China will be partially offset by increases in India, Bangladesh, Turkey and Pakistan.

World cotton stocks are forecast to rise to 18 million tons by July 2014, which will represent approximately 9 months of world mill use. However, the ending stocks-to-use ratio in the world minus the Chinese reserve will drop to 37% in 2012/13 and to an estimated 30% in 2013/14, posing a potential challenge to the global supply of cotton next season. Assuming the Chinese government adheres to the current reserve policy, the Cotlook A Index is projected to average 88 cents and 122 cents per pound in 2012/13 and 2013/14, respectively.

  2011/12 2012/13 2013/14   2011/12 2012/13 2013/14
          Changes from previous month
  Million Tons   Million Tons
Production 27.79 26.34 24.61   0.34 0.34 1.14
Consumption 22.10 23.71 24.25   -0.68 0.30 0.54
Imports 9.79 9.43 8.90   0.08 1.73 0.78
Exports 9.80 9.43 8.90   -0.19 0.68 0.78
Ending Stocks 15.27 17.90 18.25   1.19 1.21 1.81
Cotlook A Index* 1.00 88.00* 122.000**        

* The price projection for 2012/13 is based on the ending stocks/mill use ratio in the world-less-China in 2010/11 (estimate), in 2011/12 (estimate) and 2012/13 (projection), on the ratio of Chinese net imports to world imports in 2011/12 (estimate) and 2012/13 (projection), and on the average price for the first nine months of 2012/13.
95% confidence interval: 84 to 95 cents per pound.
** The price projection for 2013/14 is based on the ending stocks/consumption ratio in the world-less-China in 2011/12 (estimate), in 2012/13 (projection) and in 2013/14 (projection), on the ratio of Chinese net imports to world imports in 2012/13 (estimate) and 2013/14
(projection), and on the price projection of 2012/13.
95% confidence interval: 101 to 147 cents per pound.

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The International Cotton Advisory Committee is an association of governments of cotton producing and consuming countries. The Secretariat of the Committee publishes information related to world cotton production, supply, demand and prices, and provides technical information on cotton production technology. Detailed statistics are found bimonthly in COTTON: Review of the World Situation, $150 per year. A monthly outlook is available on the Internet
for $300 per year. Access to the weekly estimates of world cotton supply and use by the 
Secretariat is also available on the Internet for $460 per year.

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