If the Label Says “Egyptian Cotton,” It Must Be Egyptian Cotton. Not So Fast.


It was almost three years ago when the scandal involving Egyptian Cotton hit the headlines.

As part of the organic industry for more than 20 years, we think of the organic label as standing for integrity, honesty, and transparency. That’s why it was so discouraging to hear that Egyptian cotton products were being mislabeled, a double whammy – because not only are our products organic but they are also made with Egyptian cotton.

Can you imagine creating a red wine in South America, but selling it as French Bordeaux so you can charge more money?

That’s essentially what a company was doing with Egyptian cotton, using cheaper cotton and then labeling it as Egyptian to charge more money.

For those interested in the details, a company called Welspun India Ltd, a huge textile company in India, sold sheets and pillowcases labeled as Egyptian cotton to Target, Walmart, and other big box retailers, even though a cheaper type of cotton was used in the products. I guess you could call them “FAKE sheets.” 

We are not just talking about a few thousand sheets.  Target alone discovered that 750,000 sheets that Welspun made for them were actually fake, worth millions of dollars.  Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Target and Walmart knew about the false labeling yet they continued to sell them as a premium product. They were part of the scandal to fool their customers…all in the name of profits. I say this because Egyptian Cotton commands a premium price, but it also costs roughly twice as much as Indian cotton to make. 

When the scandal broke, the Cotton Egyptian Association (CEA) took action and did an audit in the marketplace and found that more than 10% of products labeled as Egyptian Cotton was not authentic.  But wait –  how can that be when Egyptian cotton only accounts for 1% of the world’s cotton?

All the fake products had distorted the market share numbers. 

On May 20th a Federal Judge finally announced that the Big Box stores and Welspun will face lawsuits from falsely labeled 100% Egyptian cotton sheets which resulted in consumers overpaying for mislabeled products. This is a win for consumers and a win for Under The Nile.

I hope that this will lead towards consumers purchasing from companies and brands that have clear transparency and ethics. You may be paying more, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing you are getting exactly what you paid for.

Don’t believe everything you see!