Cotton mill use generally follows world economic activity. When the global economy contracts (expands), consumers often decrease (increase) purchases of items such as clothing.
As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic weakened the world economy in 2020, numerous industrial disruptions occurred, including textile and apparel operations. Correspondingly, world cotton mill use in marketing year 2019 (August 2019-July 2020) declined to a 16-year low, with the 14.6 percent year-over-year decrease unmatched during the previous 100 years.
However, as the global economy begins to recover from the pandemic, world cotton mill use has increased. Based on USDA’s June 2021 forecast, marketing year 2020 global cotton mill use is estimated to regain most of the past season’s lost volume, and the projected 14.8 percent year-over-year expansion is the second highest during the past century.
Global cotton mill use has increased more than 10 percent year-over-year in only 7 other years since 1920, with most of those gains following significant recessionary declines. Although the global economy and cotton mill use continues to recover from the pandemic’s impact, the 2020 rebound in cotton mill use has arguably been just as historic as the unprecedented 2019 decline.
This information and the effects on global cotton supply and demand are discussed in the USDA, Economic Research Service’s June 2021 Cotton and Wool Outlook.