The idea behind the standards, which are the result of consultation between five certification bodies, was to produce a harmonised European standard for natural and organic cosmetics.
However, Cosmos is by no means the only option available to manufacturers; a number of other standards also compete on the European stage including Natrue.
Standards took time but certifying will be swift
One of the major criticisms levelled at the Cosmos group is the time it has taken to develop the standards, the version to which people can certify will be published in September 2009.
Although he accepted the criticism, Martyn Cole from the Soil Association (the UK-based certifying bodies involved in the standards), said that once the standards were up and running certification should proceed quickly and effectively as all the bodies involved have significant experience in the area.
He also said he expected the vast majority of current Soil Association licensees to stay with the certifier and the Cosmos standard.
Manufacturers who currently hold Soil Association organic certification will be obliged to change over to Cosmos Organic standard within 36 months of the publication of the finalised standards.
“This time frame is designed to let company’s run through their original stock,” Cole told CosmeticsDesign.
As almost all products currently certified under Soil Association standards will be accepted under Cosmos, the reformulation needed will be minimal. This, coupled with a lengthy consultation process entered into with current licensees should mean there will be little to gain by changing standards, he explained.
In addition, Cole believes a further selling point for Cosmos is the impact the five certifying bodies already have in the major European markets.
Natrue is strongly positioned in US
However, looking to the North American market, Natrue’s position has been significantly strengthened by a partnership with Quality Assurance International which certifies to NSF’s ‘Made with Organic’ standard.
The agreement means that products complying with either the Natrue label or the NSF ‘Made with Organic’ standard will be recognised by the other certification body.
According to Cole, this will strengthen the company’s position when trying to attract European manufacturers targeting North American markets, and similar moves can be expected from Cosmos in the future.
This was echoed by the Soil Association’s standards and technical director Francis Blake: “We realise that when we have finalised the Cosmos standard, we will need to develop similar relationships, but obviously it is difficult to open negotiations before we know what we are negotiating about.”