Today I wanted to talk about the nature. Did you notice how, only some years ago, how little people were worrying about the product origins, composition and “natural” aspects. It was all about the new technologies and price.
However, with recent food and environment scandals, and now also emphasized by the Covid situation, people are more and more careful about their health and choose products with a bigger concern about the composition, production and origin of those.
A study, conducted by Accenture in April 2020, shows that the majority of consumers tend currently to focus more and more on their basic needs, and such values as food safety, security, health and family.
Not surprising that products considered as “natural” took a huge leap in the consumer basket. According to The Soil Association (UK organic certification body), organic beauty sector grew by 14% in the UK over 2018, reaching £86.3 million in the UK.
Unfortunately, although the transparency became a must for brands, the “bio” and “organic” terms remain poorly regulated and the whole “natural” market is still quite opaque, containing a huge number of various labels, more or less trustful.
The situation is quite different between the food and cosmetics sectors: indeed, food-wise the term “bio” is protected by the EU regulations and to obtain it, brands must fulfill several strict criteria.
On the other hand, in cosmetic field, the “bio” label on packaging does not mean anything relevant. In Europe, there are 2 major labels, COSMOS and Natrue, sharing the market of organic certifications.
So you might think that if you buy a product branded with their logo, you can be sure about its safety and organic nature. Actually…it is not that simple.
Indeed, these labels require from the product ingredients to be from “natural origin”, but it can include pretty everything. Let’s see an example from the table of COSMOS standard definitions. There are 4 different types of ingredients that are accepted by COSMOS standards:
- PPAI = Physically Processed Agro-Ingredient
- CPAI = Chemically Processed Agro-Ingredient
- SyMo = Synthetic Moieties
- NNI = Non Natural Ingredient
To be certified, the product must contain at least 95% of components from PPAI or CPAI types. While the physical transformation can be logically considered as quite natural (f.ex orange juice, physically pressed from an orange), the chemical transformation can be literally any weird ingredient (f.ex Glycerin, chemically extracted from some plants), which doesn’t look very natural…
And when you go through the table, you notice that the majority of authorized ingredients in this list are actually from the CPAI type. Which means that the COSMOS label does not guarantee that ingredients used are natural but only from the “natural origin” which, as you saw in the example above, doesn’t prove its real organic nature.
Though, those labels are not bad. In contrary. They create good standards on the market. COSMOS for example is very complete, regulating not only the product composition* but also such aspects as the production (excluding the usage of harmful for people and the environment technics), packaging (with encouraged recycling and exclusion the usage of harmful materials) and labeling (percentage of bio and natural ingredients have to be clearly indicated on the packaging). Once per year, an independent authority makes a control to ensure that the criteria are respected.
As a conclusion I can just say that there is for sure a huge progress in the development of safer for human health and more respectful for the environment products and this is good! However, there is still a lot to do and the consumer shall stay careful, read the list of ingredients and inform himself about the labels. The education and information remain the only safeguard in this promising but grey area.
Thanks guys and take care
*(Min of 95% of ingredients coming from the natural origin and min of 95% of physically transformed vegetal ingredients coming from the biological agriculture. Controversial ingredients are blacklisted)