Despite last year´s drop of 10%, Brazil maintained its status as the world’s second largest cotton exporter in 2023. With overseas shipments of 1.618 million tonnes from January to December, the country generated a yearly revenue of US$3.07 billion.  

This level of performance had been forecasted by the Brazilian Cotton Growers Association (Abrapa). “The 2022/23 crop was affected by adverse weather conditions, and as a result we had a smaller volume to export. The global scenario was also challenging for cotton”, explained the president of Abrapa, Alexandre Schenkel.  

Two ongoing armed conflicts have affected the global economy: Russia/Ukraine and Israel/Palestine. This has led to instability in the international markets resulting in upward trends both in inflation and interest rates, slowing down the economies of several countries. The result was a drop in demand for cotton, with textile mills operating at a slower pace throughout 2023 and, consequently, importing less.  

“It was a set of issues all together. So much so that in the second half of the year the pace of exports accelerated. That was when we harvested the 2022/23 crop with record performance and excellent quality”, added Mr. Schenkel.  

This optimism can be explained: 74% of the exports in 2023 (1.194 million tonnes) occurred between July and December, exceeding the figure recorded in the same period in 2022 by 24%. “Since 2018 to now, this has been the second best result”, said Marcelo Duarte, director of International Relations at Abrapa.   

With the revenue generated by exports in 2023, cotton has also established itself as the seventh largest Brazilian production chain. Cotton had a 2% share in total revenues of US$ 167.5 billion according to a ranking of agribusiness exports produced by the Insper institute.  

Responsible production is priority in one of the largest cotton exporter

But there are other factors that justify Brazil’s optimism for 2024. One of these is the growing recognition of the care taken by cotton farmers in terms of responsible production.

“One of our differentials is that more than 80% of the domestic crop has socio-environmental certification, meeting the end consumer’s demand for sustainable products”, pointed out Mr. Duarte. 

Furthermore, the strategy of maintaining close contact with buyer markets has been successful. Responsible for Cotton Brazil – the brand name that represents the Brazilian cotton production chain internationally – the director of International Relations reported that in 2023 Brazil held 18 international events and five trade exchange missions between Brazilian farmers and mill owners, investors and importers from the world’s main textile industries.  

Global program expands brazilian cotton market

Cotton Brazil targets ten countries (Bangladesh, China, South Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam), which together accounted for 89% of global cotton imports and 95% of exports from Brazil in the 2022/23 market year.  

For 2024, Cotton Brazil’s schedule has already been planned. The first of six international missions planned for the year begins in February with visits to Bangladesh and Indonesia. This is an Abrapa program in a joint partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex Brasil) and the National Cotton Shippers Association (Anea). 

In addition to being the second largest exporter, Brazil became the third largest cotton producer in the world last season (2022/23). Estimates from the Brazilian National Cotton Shippers Association (Anea) indicate that between July 2023 and June 2024 Brazilian exports will reach a total of 2.4 million tonnes – 72% more than in the previous season (July 2022/June 2023). 


Important numbers 

  • In 2023, 95.8% of Brazilian cotton shipments were made through the Port of Santos (SP).  
  • The Port of Paranaguá increased its share by 1.97% for the year, accounting for 2.35% of all shipments.  
  • Brazilian cotton was purchased by 22 countries in 2023 – 24% less than the 29 countries in 2022.  
  • China imported 777 thousand tonnes of Brazilian cotton (48% of the total) in 2023 
  • Chinese imports of Brazilian cotton increased by 49% compared to 2022 
  • Egypt began importing Brazilian cotton in January 2023 after almost 20 years of negotiations.