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Natural and organic products become mass-market in the US

By Leah Armstrong , 14-Apr-2010
Last updated the 14-Apr-2010 at 17:03 GMT

Two independent market researchers, Kline in the US and Organic Monitor in the UK, have found that US natural and organic cosmetic products are making a cross-over from the specialist to mainstream market channels.

A global market analysis report issued by Kline this week showed that while health and natural food stores traditionally held the natural and organic cosmetic market, mass retailers have been rapidly catching up. The mass market now represents the fastest growing retail channel for this industry segment.

Lowering prices

Amarjit Sahota, Research Director for Organic Monitor, said that he and his team had come to similar conclusions from four years of research in North America. He said that the biggest contributing factor to the cross-over has been the emergence of companies such as Yes To Carrots, which started two years ago. In offering extremely competitive prices, this company has appealed to the mainstream market and helped to redefine the natural and organic sector as popular, not alternative.

However, Sahota told CosmeticsDesign.com USA that there is an accompanying problem to this mass-marketing of organic and natural products in the US. While they might offer their product at a lower price to a wider market, some brands are also compromising the natural ingredient content of the product.

In this sense, there is a concern that the lowering in price might also have cheapened and undermined the authenticity of the natural cosmetics market.

Illegitimate claims’

This concern relates to a bigger issue of the lack of natural and organic certification in the US. He stated that while 75 per cent of natural cosmetics are certified in Europe, only 5 per cent are certified in the US. This has resulted in many companies making ‘illegitimate claims’ about their natural ingredients and escaping independent judgement.

Both Kline and Organic Monitor predict the flood of natural products into the mass market to continue, but Sahota added that he felt this would also force the establishment of a standard of certification for natural cosmetics in the US.

He said that he took encouragement in this regard from companies such as Burt’s Bees and Aveda, who have agreed that an independent standard of certification should be established, suggesting that agencies such as the Natural Products Association (NPA) might take the lead in this regard. Sahota stated that in 5 years time, he predicted the US market to operate similar standards of certification to that of Europe.

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