Cotton futures are at their highest level in about a decade
The most active cotton futures on the Intercontinental Exchange closed up 3.8 percent at $1.09 a pound on Tuesday, keeping prices at their highest level since September 2011. Gold is up 22% over the past 11 trading days. Clothing prices may eventually follow suit.
Prices of other raw materials, such as timber, have soared this year as high demand and tangled supply chains keep goods from reaching customers who need them. Prices for other American crops, such as corn and wheat, have also risen sharply this year because of drought conditions in the United States and overseas. Cotton shows the sometimes unexpected impact trade policy can have on prices.
Fund traders added to bullish positions as US farmers began harvesting their crops, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the national cotton harvest is 13 percent complete and the crop looks good -- 62 percent of the crop is in good or excellent condition, compared to 40 percent this time last year.
"Things are good so the harvest should hold up well," said Jack Scoville, an analyst at Price Futures Group.
Bryan, Texas (KBTX) - Cotton prices have risen steadily over the past year. With the sudden increase in the value of crops, we will see the impact when we buy clothes.
Apparel prices have risen 4.2 percent in the past year, according to the government inflation report.
John Robinson, an economist and Agrilife Extension professor at Texas A&M who has been studying cotton trends, said the biggest price he saw in prices came last week and a half.
"Cotton prices have been trending, and I would say the 80s and 90s were pretty good. In the last 10 days or so, it has soared. I would say about 15 cents, which is a huge change, "Robinson said.
When it comes to changing how much someone spends on clothes. While cotton does play a role in price, other factors such as manufacturing costs, transportation costs and overall branding also add to the final price. If demand for cotton gets out of control, farmers will be prepared to plant more when needed.
"What is going to happen before there is a big impact on apparel prices is that the persistence of high cotton prices is going to encourage farmers here in the United States to plant 20 to 3 million more acres, and that is going to happen around the world, from Farmers in India to farmers in Brazil. They respond to high prices by really increasing supply, "says John Robinson.
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