One would think replacing harsh chemicals with safe and naturally derived ingredients would be a good thing, right? Well, not so fast. Organic Monitor believes that this development could open up a Pandora’s Box in the beauty industry. Diverting agricultural land from the production of food crops to plant derived cosmetic ingredients could result in a global food shortage.
On a small scale replacing food crops with cosmetic ingredients may not seem like a threat to world food supply, but if the natural and organic product market continues to grow as it has been for the past 5 years then companies need to take preventative action. At the very least cosmetic companies need to begin putting measures in place that ensure their ingredients are derived from sustainable sources. The repercussions could be huge if natural cosmetic companies begin receiving some blame for a global food shortage.
Global food shortage, really? Well, it is surely possible. At the current rate of world population growth, coupled by increasing food prices and a decreasing amount of available agricultural land, the threat is very real and could easily creep its way into the natural cosmetics market.
If the threat manifests companies need to be prepared for a new debate about ‘food vs. beauty crops,’ says Organic Monitor. Companies that already sustainably source their natural ingredients will be one step ahead and avoid the backfire.
Large consumer product companies who source natural ingredients realize the risk and have already started taking proactive measures. L’Oreal, Unilever and Proctor & Gamble have made commitments to sustainable sourcing, while Wal-Mart has been putting pressure on its suppliers to adopt sustainability practices for a few years now.
Natural and Organic certifications and Fair Trade standards are gaining popularity around the world. Up next could be sustainable ingredient certified.
Palm Oil is a good example of how companies or associations can come together and set standards to sourcing natural ingredients. It is possible that in the near future more companies will follow suit as they have with palm oil by pledging to only source from Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)-approved companies. Organic Monitor has already noticed that similar roundtables exist for soya and cocoa, and more are under development.
In summary, the cosmetic and personal care industry have been moving in the right direction by wanting to make safer products by using natural ingredients, but it is evident that it now needs to be taken one step further. No longer is the time when having natural ingredients is enough. Companies now need to be able to squash the debate before it occurs and avoid a potentially harsh backfire by beginning to sustainably source natural ingredients.