Cotton Will Be Australia’s Third-Highest-Value Export Commodity in 2022

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Australian cotton is predicted to overtake wheat and cattle to become the third most valuable export product.

According to official data from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), cotton alone was exported for approximately $866 million in August 2022, almost twice as much as cotton was shipped for all of 2020, just two years earlier.

In a news release, Cotton Australia CEO Adam Kay stated that “in the calendar year 2020, $455 million of cotton was exported to various offshore markets. That was reflected in the drought-impacted 2019-20 yield of fewer than 590,000 bales which was the worst result in recent history.”

“Our forecast for the 2022 crop was around 5.2 million bales, and we exceeded that with a result of 5.5 million. What we see here is the result of some harvesting delays due to the wet weather and earlier issues with shipping and container availability. The good news is that bottlenecks and container shortages are showing signs of easing, which should ensure an easier passage of our cotton to the various overseas markets,” Kay added.

Export predictions for 2022–2023 are expected to reach $7.0 billion thanks to efforts to reduce backlogs and overcome obstacles and global marketing of our cotton by Australian Cotton Shippers Association members. 

Cotton is now ranked third in export commodity value, behind wheat and beef, and this placement correlates with a decline in livestock exports due to dropping prices for red meat and wool.

Although widespread inflation, a weak Chinese economy, and declining consumer demand have reduced expectations for global growth, Australian cotton is still in high demand due to its quality and the fact that its crops have been affected less by drought in the US and flooding in Pakistan than other cotton-producing countries.

According to Kay, approximately 30% of the 2023 crop has already been sold in advance, and those strong export totals will continue to grow over the coming months.

With an abundance of land suitable for cotton production and favourable global markets driving demand, this commodity is set to become even more crucial to Australia’s export economy in the years ahead. 

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