BUSINESS 2.0:

The Panda Food in Your Pants

By Sidra Durst, Business 2.0 Magazine intern

(Business 2.0 Magazine) -- Time was when bamboo was just for stir-frying and panda feed. Now the Chinese grass, which yields 50 times as much fiber per acre as cotton, is used for everything from hardwood flooring to baby clothes.

And it's fast becoming the U.S. fabric industry's hot new alternative to cotton. Indeed, $10 million worth of bamboo textiles will be sold in the United States this year, $50 million worldwide.

Currently the method of turning stalks into yarn is a secret closely guarded by Chinese manufacturers. But that doesn't make the product prohibitively pricey: A bamboo T-shirt costs about $7 and is far softer, easier to dye, and better at fighting odor than cotton.

"It's not as cheap as cotton yet, but it will be. Bamboo fabric will be gigantic," says Rich Delano, whose Brea, Calif., company, Bamboo Textiles, began selling bamboo clothes, towels, and bedding three years ago in the United States and has seen revenue triple to $1 million a year.

Delano's products are already on shelves at Target (Charts) and will be in Nordstrom (Charts) and J.C. Penney (Charts) next year. Ga (Charts)p is also researching uses for the fabric.

"The market potential of bamboo fabric is certain to grow," says Brian Waniewski, an analyst at BrainReserve. Bad news for pandas, good news for the makers of polos and pants.  Top of page

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.