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Cotton crisis threatened by 'Tsunami Covid'

Virus is impacting India’s entire domestic supply chain.

26th May 2021

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Minnesota, USA


Minnesota-based textile distributor Global Impex USA believes India’s Covid-19 crisis may lead to a future cotton shortage.

“We are calling it Tsunami Covid,” said King Mukherjee, president and founder of Global Impex USA. “People were not social-distancing, they were not wearing masks, nothing. So it was business as usual and all of a sudden the cases started rising drastically.”

All of Asia’s outbreaks are hitting major global supply chains which could lead to greater inflation in the USA and the sudden surge of the new variant has heavily affected India’s fabric manufacturing, he added.

Sarvesh Jain, a representative from Mamta Global Trading based in Sangli, Maharashtra, India, said the virus impacted India’s entire domestic supply chain and that cotton prices are now at their highest for six or seven years.

 Supplies from India have been delayed making cotton more likely to be added to the growing list of commodities that are becoming harder to obtain in the future. Current commodities that are difficult to obtain include gas, steel, microchips and more.

“Shortage or delay in supply will happen if countries go into complete lock down,” said Mike Sanders, the national marketing manager for Akron, Ohio-based business Schott Textiles. “There will be no workers in fields to pick cotton and less people to run the looms.”

India is the largest cotton supplier in the world, meaning its Covid crisis is affecting all companies in the textile trade.

“When India's supplies go down –and it is going to go down drastically in the coming months – I personally feel there are going to be even more shortages, and the prices are going to go even higher,” Mukherjee said. “I think in around three-to-six months’ time, there will be a big shortage.”

Most recently, Gujarat, a state of India, has been hit by the most powerful cyclone in two decades, Cyclone Tauktae. The cyclone forced over 200,000 people to evacuate and killed over 100 people. A second cyclone, Cyclone Yaas, will most likely hit eastern India, forcing more than a million people to evacuate.

“All of this is affecting the supply chain, cotton supplies and factory production,” Mukherjee said. “Our containers right now are stuck on the boat because of the cyclone.”

Jain also mentioned that high fuel prices in India and a lack of migrant workers have contributed to the rise in cotton prices and may lead to a shortage in the future.

Global Impex USA, partners with Umed Group, a global fabric manufacturer based in India that has had to delay fabric shipments and manufacturing due to the spread of the new COVID-19 variant.

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