Supima Cotton’s Origin to be Verified in New Program

In the world of cotton, it is an open secret that some products labeled 100 percent Egyptian or Pima cotton are not what they appear and are really cheaper cotton.

This is an issue that American Pima growers have been trying to address for the past decade. Now they have a solution.

Supima, the nonprofit marketing organization that represents American Pima growers, has partnered with Oritain Global Ltd. to provide testing to identify and verify the origin of Supima cotton, which is Pima cotton grown by licensed Supima-cotton companies. “We have been trying to find different solutions for the last 10 years,” said Jason Thompson, brand development manager for Supima. “When a product bears the Supima trademark, we want to ensure the cotton is verified.”

Oritain will use scientific technology to measure the naturally occurring elements that exist within the cotton fiber, which is based on the geographical production area where the cotton is grown.

“The unique fingerprint analysis identifies different levels of chemical attributes that are found in the product itself and enables the cotton to be verified against its claimed origin,” said Grant Cochrane, the chief executive of Oritain.

The identification process is done by mapping the geographical region where the cotton is grown and identifying the trace elements in the soil, the water and the air. “In California, you will find remnants of gold,” Thompson said. “They are taking samples from every Pima farmer to build a database.”

About 85 percent of the American Pima cotton grown in the United States comes from California with the rest cultivated in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. There are more than 500 American Pima growers in the United States whose extra-long-staple cotton sells for twice the amount as other U.S. cotton.

The advantage of the Oritain method is that it doesn’t need to apply any identifiers or tracers during the manufacturing or processing phases, which makes it a simple solution that measures what is naturally found inside the fiber.

Oritain originally started working last year with California-based J. G. Boswell Co., one of the largest growers of Supima cotton in the United States. From there, it has now expanded to all Supima cotton growers.