Traceability – Australia

Transparency yields confidence

From the field to the spinning mill, the Cotton LEADS℠ program is leading the way in traceable cotton production and sustainable cotton sourcing. Comprehensive tracking and identification systems are in place throughout the cotton production supply chain in both Australia and the U.S.

Cotton produced in Australia and the U.S. is identified on-farm by a module ticket. When the cotton is ginned, each bale is assigned a unique bale identification number. In Australia, each bale of Australian cotton that enters the market is graded (to assess quality) and labelled with a unique bale identification number and barcode identifier that’s inserted at time of picking. This traceability data stays with the cotton until arrival at the spinning mill and allows a bale of Australian cotton to be tracked back to the field in which it was planted.


Follow the bale


Harvested cotton is mainly picked with round bale pickers, and formed into large circular units. Each round bale is identified with an RFID tag inserted at the time of picking, allowing the gin to link a round bale to the location where it was grown.


Upon arrival at the gin, each round bale is logged into a database and after ginning, each cotton bale is labeled with a permanent bale identification tag that stays with that bale until delivery at the spinning mill. A sample taken from each side of the bale is collected and identified with the same number, and these samples are sent to a classing office to assess quality.


Classing offices receive bale samples from the gin and measure the fiber properties of each sample. All cotton is tested on HVI (high volume instrument) machines, and color and leaf grade is assigned according to the USDA Universal standards in independent classing offices that are accredited under Best Management Practices (myBMP). Australian quality data is available from the merchant for each bale of cotton sold into the market.


Every bale of cotton that enters the market from Australia is labeled with a unique bale identification number and barcode identifier. The identification number and barcode identifies the unique bale and links it to both the farm and gin.


After ginning, cotton bales are labeled, classed and warehoused ready for shipment. Cotton purchases and sales are typically managed by independent merchants that purchase cotton from growers and sell it into the world market. On request, spinning mills can access traceability and quality data on every bale of Australian cotton.

Accountability Down the Chain

Explore the research and resources we’ve pulled this information from.