Retail sales of organic cotton apparel and home textiles reached an estimated $4.3 billion in 2009, up 35% from a year earlier, according to the Organic Cotton Market Report 2009 released by the non-profit organization Organic Exchange.


The growth shows strong consumer support for sustainable products in the face of global recession. By contrast, sales for the overall global apparel and household textiles market declined 7% in 2009 from 2008. Companies reported significant- and in some cases phenomenal-growth of their organic cotton programs and increased adoption of standards addressing organic product traceability and sustainable textile processing.


The top 12 organic cotton using brands in order of their rank included: Nike, Inc., 2nd; Walmart, 3rd; Greensource Organic Clothing Co, 7th; Target, 10th; and adidas, 11th. Ranked first was C&A, a fashion brand based in Brussels.


“Many people thought the recession would mean an end to all things organic, but the market reacted in quite the opposite way,” said LaRhea Pepper, OE senior director and co-author of the report. “Consumers dug in their heels and continued to support the use of organic cotton and other sustainable fibers, while brands and retailer maintained or even expanded their commitments to making their product lines more sustainable by continuing to increase their use of such fibers and safer manufacturing processes.”


OE projects the global organic cotton market will grow 20 to 40 percent in both 2010 and 2011 to result in an estimated $5.1 billion market in 2010 and $6.0 billion market in 2011.