Economics of cotton

Cotton makes an enormous contribution to the Australian economy, and over 150 rural and regional communities where our farming families live and work. It's a global commodity that's highly sougth after by spinning mill customers, brands and retailers. This article explains how cotton is bought and sold in Australia.

  • Over a five year average between 2014 and 2019, the Australian cotton crop was worth an average of around AUD $2 billion annually
  • Australian cotton is sold into a highly globalised market, competing against around 100 other cotton producing nations for its share of global cotton trade
  • Australian cotton is exported through ports in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne
  • The price that a grower receives for each bale of cotton produced is set by the world market which is dependent on a number of factors including the state of the world economy, agricultural politics, fashion trends, synthetic fibre price, weather, natural disasters and cotton’s own supply and demand
  • Cotton prices have ranged from AUD $300 to $600/bale. The all-time high was $758/bale in 1995 while the all-time low was $233/bale in 1986. The average price between 2009-2014 was $396/bale. Between 2011 and 2014, prices hovered around $440/bale (source: Australian Grown Cotton Sustainability Report 2014)
  • Cotton lint makes up about 42% of the picked cotton by weight, and contributes about 85% of the total income from a cotton crop. The other 15% of income is from cottonseed


Cotton Australia has formed a number of authentic partnerships with retailers, brands, manufacturers and supply chain partners who share the industry's values. If your organisation believes in reducing environmental footprint, the fair and safe treatment of workers, quality product and supply chain traceability - then we may be in business.

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