Textile executives from 12 Asian, Latin American and European countries will traverse the U.S. Cotton Belt Sept. 28-Oct. 8 to familiarize themselves with U.S. cotton and how the fiber is produced, processed and marketed.

The 28 participants represent 23 companies in Bangladesh, China, Colombia, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. The companies are expected to consume about 1.5 million bales in 2009, and consume about 700,000 U.S. cotton bales — equal to five percent of annual U.S. cotton exports.

"Demand building for U.S. cotton begins with the education of textile industry leaders worldwide on the benefits of sourcing U.S. cotton fiber,” said Clyde Sharp, an Arizona cotton producer and president of Cotton Council International (CCI), which sponsors the COTTON USA Orientation Tour. “Not only will this tour enable our industry to showcase U.S. cotton's world-class benefits to overseas spinners of our fiber, but it is also a perfect opportunity to strengthen ties with these important export customers."

The 12 representative countries are expected to consume about 64 million bales of cotton in 2009-10. This represents about 57 percent of the total world cotton consumption. These countries import about 22 million cotton bales annually of which about 12 million were U.S. bales. This represents nearly 70 percent of U.S. cotton’s total worldwide sales.

The 2009 participants will visit a farm and gin in the Mid-South, observe cotton research in North Carolina, Mississippi and Texas, and tour the USDA cotton classing office in Bartlett, Tenn. They will meet with exporters in the four major Cotton Belt regions and get briefings from CCI, the National Cotton Council, Cotton Incorporated, the American Cotton Shippers Association, the Texas Cotton Association, the Lubbock Cotton Exchange, AMCOT, the Western Cotton Shippers Association, the American Cotton Producers, the Southern Cotton Growers Association, the Delta Council, the Plains Cotton Growers Association, the San Joaquin Valley Quality Cotton Growers Association and Supima.

More than 800 textile executives from more than 60 countries have toured the U.S. Cotton Belt via CCI’s Orientation Tour, which was initiated in 1968. The Tour’s objectives are to increase U.S. cotton customers’ awareness of the types/qualities of U.S. cotton, help them gain a better understanding of U.S. marketing practices and enhance their relationships with U.S. exporters. The Tour has led many foreign textile manufacturers to develop an appreciation for U.S. cotton fiber quality and furthered the U.S. cotton industry’s reputation as a reliable supplier.

The tour continues to be an excellent vehicle for helping U.S. cotton capture additional market share overseas.