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Global Natural Cosmetics Market: The Battle of the Standards Gains Pace

Organic Monitor reported that the final version of the Cosmos standard has been announced. The launch comes after six years of negotiations between European natural and organic cosmetic certification agencies: Soil Association (UK), BDiH (Germany), Ecocert (France), Cosmebio (France), ICEA (Italy) and Ecogarantie (Belgium). Combined, these agencies provide certification to approximately 1,000 cosmetic companies and 10,000 products

Certification of the new Cosmos standard is expected to begin in September 2009. There has, according to Organic Monitor, been much anticipation of the new standard, initially perceived as the basis of a possible international standard, though Organic Monitor believes Cosmos is losing impetus because of its lengthy gestation period. A number of new initiatives, introduced in the last 18 months, are gaining momentum and could outpace Cosmos.

NaTrue is the main rival. The industry group launched its standard in May 2008, with the first certified products coming into the market at the end of the year. The popularity of the NaTrue standard is due, in part, because it is backed by some of the leading natural cosmetics brands in Europe.

A number of developments are also occurring in the U.S. In 2007, there were no standards for natural and organic cosmetics. Three separate initiatives are now moving forward with the backing of large cosmetic manufacturers.The front runner is Natural Products Association (NPA), which launched its natural standard in May 2008. More than 200 products are now certified according to the NPA standard. Burt’s Bees is one of the main supporters of the standard, providing $1 million to raise awareness of the standard and NPA logo.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) standard is expected to gain popularity. The NSF 305 standard is for cosmetic products that contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. Developed by organic cosmetic companies, it has recently received official recognition by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The main rival to the NSF 305 standard is OASIS, supported by companies such as Aveda and Hain Celestial.Similar developments are occurring in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific, where a number of private standards have been introduced.

Organic Monitor expects standards that provide regional coverage to be the most successful. The major attraction of the Cosmos standard is that it is a pan-European initiative. Cosmetic and ingredient companies only need to meet this single standard to gain recognition in the European market. However, a major drawback of Cosmos is that it will not replace any of the existing symbols and logos. It merely provides a baseline standard for natural and organic cosmetic products. For this reason, initial interest in Cosmos is expected to mainly come from companies who already have products certified by Cosmos member organizations.

NaTrue is winning support because of its uniform labeling scheme. The standard has three levels: organic, made with organic ingredients, and natural. Thus, certified products carry identical symbols, unlike Cosmos certified products.The NaTrue standard is also taking the lead for a possible global natural and organic cosmetics standard. It has already entered an equivalency agreement with NSF for its made with organic ingredients standard. A similar equivalency agreement with NPA for the natural standard is scheduled to be signed in July. These equivalency agreements are important, as they prevent repeat certification of products and can facilitate market access. Thus, a European company adopting the NaTrue standard will be able to access the North American market by getting its products certified by NSF and / or NPA.

In summary, the Cosmos standard has been much anticipated by companies looking to develop natural and organic cosmetics and ingredients for the European market. NaTrue has a much lower adoption rate than the Cosmos members in Europe, however its major advantage is a uniform labeling scheme. With its strategic tie-ups with American certification agencies, NaTrue is also providing access to the lucrative North American market.

Organic Monitor has launched a series of Natural Cosmetics Masterclasses to specifically address questions such as: What natural and organic cosmetic standards to adopt; What are the differences between the standards; and What are the major technical and formulation issues. The exact details of the finalized Cosmos standard, NaTrue standard, North American initiatives and other standards are covered in Organic Monitor’s Masterclass series. Each Masterclass will critically review and compare the major natural and organic cosmetic standards, looking specifically at the technical, formulation and ingredient issues.


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