Many clothing manufacturers that expected prices to drop have been
caught unprepared by the worldwide demand for cotton, which the US Dept.
of Agriculture expects to increase by three percent in the coming year.
Unfavorable weather patterns in some of the world’s top producers have
thinned out already-dwindling stocks, with China’s 2009 cotton
production down 15 percent due to drought and India’s crop getting off
to a slow start due to weaker-than-expected monsoon rains. Many growers
have also shifted their crop mix away from cotton, betting instead on
higher profits from corn and other grains.
Although India’s rainfall has increased in recent weeks, and a bumper
crop is expected in the United States, cotton-based clothing
manufacturers are expected to face significant cost pressure. Given the
international economic woes, it will be increasingly difficult to pass
those added costs on to the consumer.