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Bayer and Textile Company Olah Sign Cotton Agreement

07 February 2011

In a first-of-its-kind agreement, Bayer CropScience and Olah Inc., a textile and apparel company, have signed a 10-year exclusive licensing agreement to use FiberMax® and Stoneville® cotton and brand names in Olah apparel and home furnishings, writes Sarah Mikesell, TheCropSite senior editor.

FiberMax cotton is well-known in the cotton and apparel industry for it's quality, despite being launched just 12 years ago. It's a high quality, long-staple upland cotton that is mainly grown in the US and is ideally suited for finished goods that require finer yarns for manufacturing. Such products include high-end t-shirts, chinos, towels and bedsheets.

To complement the quality of FiberMax, Stoneville cotton is known for its fiber strength. It is strong and suitable for use in heavier weight fabrics and apparel including rugged outdoor work, sports and casual wear such as jeans. Stoneville cotton has a rich 100-year heritage that started in the US Delta region.

As a result of this agreement, for the first time, consumers will be able to purchase cotton garments or home furnishing goods made with and labeled as manufactured with FiberMax or Stoneville cotton. This branding approach will benefit consumers in two major ways.

First, consumers will know immediately that the fabrics have been manufactured from high-quality cotton fiber. Second, FiberMax and Stoneville goods will be identified with cotton growers from different areas, answering the consumer's growing desire for information about the origin of the products they buy.

"When Bayer launched FiberMax cotton 12 years ago, we quickly became aware of the high quality properties that FiberMax produced on-farms. Then we started getting inquiries from the textile side of the business, and people started asking specifically for FiberMax cotton," said Monty Christian, Director Global Fiber Marketing/Director US Cotton Operations.

"We quickly jumped in and started to increase the level of awareness of FiberMax cotton and that's where we've grown from. We have been particularly focused the last 5 years, and during that time we have built a lot of awareness at the spinner level," Christian said.

Bayer wanted to keep the momentum going and knew they needed to take it beyond the spinner level to the retailer and ultimately to the consumer. Christian said the announcement today has been a result of laying the groundwork within the industry.

"For cotton growers, this is a building program that will help create demand for branded cotton and draw attention to US cotton. Ultimately, we are looking to create premiums for growers who grow FiberMax and Stoneville cotton," Christian added.

What's Next?

As Bayer and Olah move forward, Bayer will work with growers to supply the cotton.

"We don't own the cotton, so we'll need to continue to work with growers and merchants to get the cotton into and flowing thru the supply chain to create the end product," Christian said.

And how can Bayer guarantee the supply chain that they are receiving FiberMax or Stoneville cotton?

"When we started focusing on the spinner segment and how to track the cotton as it moves from the farmgate through the cotton merchant and then to the spinner, we launched the Certified FiberMax Program," he said.

Christian said every cotton bale has a unique tag that identifies it along with its fiber characteristics through HDI testing. Bayer also has a Certified FiberMax Merchants Program where merchants have agreed to maintain the integrity while moving it through their process. So they've identified cotton from the farmgate, and a plan is in place to move it through the cotton merchants and spinners. And there is also a certificate that can verify that the bales were from Certified FiberMax cotton. The entire program expands to the Stoneville cotton as well.

According to Andrew Olah, CEO of Olah Inc., the agreement with Bayer provides Olah with the means to develop new products for today's consumers using best-in-class technology, production techniques and style.

"It grants us the ability to document the origin of the cotton used in our apparel and home furnishing products on a mass scale, thus providing consumers with transparency that is revolutionary in today's apparel business," Olah said.

February 2011

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