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Tour de Latin America

By Britton Barrett | Photos Courtesy of Cotton Council International

Latin America Tour GroupLast July, eight U.S. cotton producers received a first-hand look at the textile industry in Latin America. In the news, people normally hear about China’s textile industry consuming a large volume of U.S. cotton, but this tour showed the importance of U.S. cotton in Latin American markets.

The trip, sponsored by Cotton Council International (CCI), the export promotion arm of the National Cotton Council, and Cotton Incorporated gave the U.S. cotton producers a chance to reinforce the industry’s commitment to continue delivering cotton fiber and value-added products to the region. The group toured three countries in Latin America, Mexico, Honduras and Peru, within five days.

According to CCI, Mexico consumes approximately two million bales of cotton each year in both fiber and the fiber equivalent of yarns and fabrics. This represents 12 percent of the cotton grown in the United States.

Frank Bezner, Jr., from Hereford, Texas, was one of the eight cotton producers chosen to participate. It was the first time Bezner had been to Latin America, and he was very excited to participe and learn about their markets.

“I was really impressed with the people, everybody was friendly and nice, and they expressed their appreciation of U.S. cotton producers,” Bezner said.

According to government statistics, around 2.2 million bales of U.S. fiber exports are sent to Latin America, representing about 16 percent of total U.S. exports.

Brady Mimms from Lubbock, Texas, was another cotton producer asked to participate in the tour. Like Bezner, he had never been to Latin America but was excited to experience the culture.

The trip proved to be educational for both producers. Mimms said he knew how important Mexico, Peru, and Honduras were as export markets but was surprised to see how modern machinery was being used by the mills in all three countries.

The producer delegation began its trip in Mexico City where it had several meetings with that country’s textile industry leadership. Included in the stop was a tour of the Grupo Zaga textile mill.

The tour continued to Honduras for similar meetings with that country’s textile leaders as well as a tour of the Gildan knitting and sewing plant. The trip concluded with a stop in Peru where meetings were conducted with Andean textile and mill leadership as well as a tour of the Nuevo Mundo mill.

Benzer said the trip was informative and demonstrated the importance of maintaining good relationships with these countries’ textile leaders.

“These countries in Latin America are important export markets for U.S. cotton, and it’s important to show our gratitude to them,” Benzer said.