Depending on the country of origin or region, there exist numerous standards and certification agencies. Organic Monitor conducted research and found the adoption rate of natural and organic cosmetic standards to be the highest in Europe, although it is also the most fragmented in terms of seals and logos.
In Europe and other parts of the world, the seals and logos are mainly assumed on a national level, with few bridging boarders. The Soil Association is the near exclusive standard used by UK companies, ICEA dominates the Italian market, Cosmebio and Ecocert compete in the French market, and BDIH serves predominately German companies. With that said, the Cosmos standards which launched last month is aiming to harmonize the various standards, but no common logo is planned. In accordance with the Cosmos standards 10,000 products have been certified by the six founding members.
The clear North American leader, NPA, represents over 300 products from about 30 brands. This is expected to increase as high interest has been raised due Whole Food’s new requirements for natural and organic products. Additionally, the USDA NOP organic standard remains widely accepted in spite of it being designed for organic agriculture food products.
Meanwhile, Natrue, who is already competing for stake against the Cosmos standard in Europe, has partnered with NSF ANSI in effort to be the unified standard of North America. Conversely, NPA is already entrenched in the US market and the competition is only expected to intensify. Natrue has already gained a wide following which now covers almost 1,400 products, but its popularity is largely confined to German-speaking countries.
Organic Monitor concluded that Ecocert enjoys the most international coverage, and is adopted by companies in France, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia, Brazil, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia to Australia. The Ecocert logo is becoming recognized as ‘the organic logo’ in some of these countries.
With Ecocert’s wide international acceptance, and as a member of Cosmos, together there is great potential to become the de facto global standard, according to Organic Monitor. However, the lack of a single logo/seal, plus the weak presence in North American decreases their chances for global dominance.
In Asia and Latin America, the natural and organic cosmetic markets are showing growth, but no local certification scheme exists. European standards have since filled the void. The Brazilian government is currently looking to extend its national organic food standard to cosmetics, which could result in other developing countries following suit with a national standard.
As the battles intensify in Europe and North America, new standards continue to emerge in other regions. With the potential of new government sponsored national standards, seals and logos, the fragmentation could easily widen, and consumers would be left to make the decision on how one certified product is more ‘natural’ than the other.