Sourcing and distributing naturals can be tricky business

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Supply chain Sustainability

Sourcing and distributing naturals can be tricky business
AAK, the Swedish vegetable oil company, supplies products to the cosmetics industry and beyond. Henrik Vingaard, AAK’s director of sourcing and trading for Europe and West Africa spoke with Cosmetics Design about supply chain sustainability.   

While sustainably sourced ingredients add value to many personal care products, “sustainability is a big challenge that is accomplished by addressing many areas over time,” ​says Vingaard.

Truly sustainable practices, he explains, extend well beyond the present:  “A sustainable supply chain is an environmental, social, and economic set-up to secure the wellbeing for today and tomorrow, so that the needs of the current generation can be met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”

Where it comes from
Participating in a closed chain of custody is more important than owning farms or plantations, Vingaard tells this publication. 

“A sustainable supply chain is all about transparency and documentation. Farm and plantation ownership is of less importance if the right systems and processes are in place to ensure and document sustainability.”

Shea-based ingredients, which AAK produces a line of, necessarily rely on that type of supply chain transparency. “It is important to stress that shea is a wild growing tree and shea plantations don’t exist,” ​says Vingaard.

Where it goes
An increasing number of global brands (premium and mass) are using sustainable ingredients at functional levels,” ​Vingaard observes.

Though formulation with naturals isn’t always straight forward and often requires a shift in perspective as well as strategy. “In my opinion the biggest challenge is in leaving the comfort zone. [Transitioning] to sustainable ingredients is a ‘mindset challenge’ - of formulator as well as brand owners.  But in small steps, there is progress,” ​he says.

Where it goes next
Organic Monitor reports that many successful natural and organic brands take advantage of mainstream product distribution channels.

The research company points to Aveda as an example of a natural product brand that has made good use of the typical FMCG distribution chain. “Aveda is positioned as a professional hair care brand in salons. Organic Monitor research shows it is the premier brand of natural personal care products, with distribution in over 7,000 salons,” ​the company notes in press release on the importance of distribution for what it calls green brands.  

Where to learn more
Vingaard believes that “sustainability requires a commitment to change, and [that] corporate discussions and evaluations of stakeholder value are needed to decide, develop, communicate, and implement sustainability guidelines, directing  formulators toward more sustainable choices.”

These pivotal conversations can take place among the leadership of one company as well as among decision makers from across the industry. Vingaard will be speaking with just such a group at the upcoming Sustainable Cosmetics Summit in New York City, tomorrow.

“Organized by Organic Monitor, the aim of the…Summit is to encourage sustainability in the beauty industry by bringing together key stake-holders [to] debate these major issues in a high-level forum,” ​explains the event site. Click here​ for more details.

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