The growth of the organic and natural markets has brought with it a demand from consumers for certified products. However, the accompanying proliferation of standards and certifying bodies makes it complicated for manufacturer and consumer alike.
Harmonisation through the Cosmos?
Harmonisation was the goal when five major European certification bodies developed the Cosmos standard. Although this is likely to have a unifying effect, according to Organic Monitor, it may not dominate the market as originally expected.
Belgium-based certifier Natrue is expected to gain market share and, according to Amarjit Sahota from the market research company, it is impossible to guess whether one will gain in popularity over the other.
Cosmos’ major advantage is that it has been developed by leading certification agencies and therefore has a large pool of potential licensees, explained Sahota.
However, progress has been slow. Negotiations started over five years ago and Cosmos certified products are still not on the market.
Natrue on the other hand was formed in December 2007 and by January 2009 certified products were on the market.
Another advantage for Natrue is its unified logo. The Cosmos standard aims to be a standard to which other European certifying bodies can certify to, and the manufacturers would be obliged to put these details on the label as well.
For Sahota, Natrue’s one logo system may strengthen its position against the Cosmos standard.
Natrue has US links
Natrue has also formed a recent partnership with the US body Quality Assurance International (QAI) which certifies to the NSF ‘Made with Organic’ standard.
The agreement will mean that products complying with either the Natrue label or the NSF ‘Made with Organic’ standard will be recognised by the other certification body.
So a cosmetics firm manufacturing products certified by Natrue in Europe will not have to go through the full certification process when it enters the US market. Instead Natrue will submit the relevant data to the QAI for a nominal fee and the products will automatically gain NSF certification.
As the NSF ‘Made with Organic’ standard is now an American National Standard the move may give significant advantages to Natrue certified products for those who wish to enter the US market.