Woolworths has taken the lead in the introduction of organically grown cotton to the South African market and is currently the third largest consumer of certified organic cotton globally. This was announced at the 5th Annual Organic Exchange Conference held in Montery, California in November 2007. The Organic Exchange is the leading independent, non-profit organisation mobilising the organic movement across the world. Woolworths commitment to offering consumers an increasing number of organic cotton clothing options is in line with Woolworths Good business journey – a comprehensive strategy that addresses the issue of sustainable growth within the context of the changing social and environmental challenges facing South Africa and the planet. Included in the plan is the intention to accelerate efforts to reduce the environmental impact of products and processes by introducing more textile items made with sustainable fibres such as organic cotton, organic wool, bamboo, hemp, recycled polyester and soya. According to the Organic Exchange, conventional cotton is one of the most chemically intensive crops and consumes 25% of the insecticides and more than 10% of other pesticides used in the world. On the other hand, organic cotton is produced using only natural fertilisers, pesticides and phosphates. The resultant reduction in the use of potentially harmful pesticides and chemicals will be of significant benefit to farm workers, consumers, the environment and the eco system. As part of the focus on the environment, over the next five years, Woolworths plans to increase organic-content clothing sales to more than R1bn per annum. Woolworths decision to offer South African consumers organic cotton options has a far-reaching positive impact on the organic cotton industry. By creating local demand for organic cotton, Woolworths is working hard to encourage South African farmers to embrace the expanding global organic cotton market. This effort is supported by the Organic Exchange, Cotton SA and Woolworths supply chain partners. As part of this commitment, Woolworths will be launching a pilot organic cotton growing programme in South Africa in November 2007. Woolworths has also shown its support for the worldwide move towards organic cotton by joining major global brands such as Nike, Marks & Spencer and Patagonia, Nordstrom and Timberland, as a key champion of the Organic Exchange. Ends. Notes for the Editor. The Good business journey Woolworths ‘Good business journey’, announced by CEO Simon Susman on 19 April 2007, is an acceleration of Woolworths ongoing commitment to managing the business’ impact as it continues to grow and meet the increasing needs of South African consumers, and specifically defines a 5 year plan to 2012 in four key areas: Accelerating transformation
  • Become a level 4 contributor (dti code)
  • Drive preferential procurement
  • Advance skills development and equity ownership
  • Push our “South Africa first” approach harder
Driving social development
  • Utilise Woolworths expertise in enterprise development
  • Increase social contributions to more than R300m per year
Enhancing environmental focus
  • Increase organic and free range food sales fourfold to over R1bn per annum and increase organic-content clothing sales to more than R1bn per annum
  • Continue the transformation to healthy eating & lifestyles through the Good Food Journey
  • Accelerate environmental conservation and biodiversity programmes
  • Reduce and recycle packaging from source through to customer
Addressing climate change
  • Reduce relative carbon footprint by 30%
  • Focus on energy savings and transport emissions
  • Open a trial carbon neutral store

Woolworths has taken the lead in the introduction of organically grown cotton to the South African market and is currently the third largest consumer of certified organic cotton globally.