International manufacturers seek EU organic certification

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Cosmetics

Due to the shortfall in legislation and regulation in the ever
growing US organic and naturals market, manufacturers are
increasingly looking to EU certification for product ranges.

According to market research analyst Organic Monitor, many US manufacturers are recognising that certification is one way in which to compete in the over saturated organic market - an area of the cosmetics industry that is fraught with confusion over regulation of what should be deemed 'organic'. "With the absence of any major regulations and private standards for natural & organic cosmetics in the USA and Canada, North American companies are increasingly making products according to European standards,"​ said Organic Monitor. US manufacturers are looking to private certification bodies, such as Ecocert and BDIH standards in order to prove to consumers that their products are of a high standard and do not fall into the large number of ranges that are labelled organic, but comprise of only a small percentage of ingredients that falls into this category. "Established manufacturers like Jason Natural and Aubrey Organics are having products certified by European organisations, whilst new entrants like Origins are launching products that meet European natural & organic standards".​Indeed, Ecocert is viewed as the most prestigious certification body, with cosmetic and cosmetic ingredient manufacturers in Africa, the Middle-East and Latin America all embracing the European organisation for product lines formulated with natural ingredients, from organic resources. A recent study by Kline & Company further highlighted the mounting confusion among US consumers and industry insiders relating to the many ways companies define their products as "natural". The market assessment report looked in detail at raw materials that are being marketed to consumers as 'green', 'renewable' and 'natural' and examined the companies that are forging ahead in the unclear market. However, as the US currently has no official regulation for natural or organic personal care products, consumers are still vulnerable to misinformation. The industry as a whole is being left wide open to dubious claims concerning the authenticity of the products - encouraging manufacturers to look to European waters for regulation certification. European based Cognis Care Chemicals went so far as to create a classification system to help manufacturers choose the appropriate ingredients for "green" cosmetic product ranges. The 'Green Chemical Solutions' system from the Care Chemicals strategic business unit of Cognis is based on product specific data and offers information of the company's entire care chemicals range at a glance - highlighting the proportion of natural, renewable raw materials in every ingredient. Extending this concept, the company categorised each ingredient into levels of "naturalness" to give manufacturers easier viewing and purchasing options, no doubt boosting the company's foothold as a leading chemicals provider in the natural cosmetics market. "The green movement is not a uniform movement - which is perceivable through the fact that there are more and more eco labels and certificates with different requirements than ever before. However, the related terms, such as 'organic' or 'pure natural', are not always defined clearly,"​ said Bettina Jackwerth, Cognis' global marketing director of skin care. Despite the largely unregulated industry in the US, efforts are being made to get up to speed with its European counterparts. Health Canada recently published a guidance document in order to counterattack the confusion - with the federal department releasing the document on its website to elevate any concerns regarding the classification and regulation of products that may share characteristics of both cosmetics and drugs, as defined in the Food and Drugs Act. Likewise, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) carrying an organic seal, with companies having to adhere to the strict National Organic Program standards in order to receive the certification. US company Nature Gate has created the first skin care line, Rainwater Organics, to receive the certification, which states that ingredients must be grown, raised, harvested and processed without the use of synthetics, irradiation, chemicals, preservatives, genetically modified organisms or pesticides.

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