Exclusive Interview

Raw materials progress natural labelling

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Raw materials and natural labelling

Related tags: New zealand, Belinda carli

As the natural labelling and claims market has an increasingly positive impact on consumer purchasing decisions, we spoke to Belinda Carli, Director, Institute of Personal Care Science, about the influence this has in Australia and New Zealand and asked whether there is potential for an international natural labelling standard.

Naturals in Australia and New Zealand

“The ‘natural’ market has always been big in Australia and New Zealand”,​ emphasised Belinda Carli, Director, Institute of Personal Care Science. It has been highly influenced by both countries’ natural landscapes as well as the globe’s association of Australia and New Zealand with natural ingredients in personal care products.

While Australian and New Zealand consumers are very familiar with  ‘natural’ claims and are extremely aware of ‘certification’, Carli explains how consumers are also open to choosing “‘natural’ that is not certified as this enables a company to display true integrity in ingredient selection”.

High performance is really the secret to natural product selection, however, as while Australian and New Zealand consumers look for ‘natural’ ingredients and products, “they will accept some synthetic ingredients instead of compromising performance”.

Culture and heritage proves formidable

Rather than natural ingredients being synonymous with generating trust, confidence and brand loyalty, Carli highlights how the growth and popularity of natural ingredients is related to the countries' “vast open spaces”​ and “natural landscape",​ along with their “unique fauna”​ and “connections to traditional cultures”, ​which then get incorporated into personal care products.

With natural products, “there is trust with companies that do not have certification but claim integrity in ingredient selection – and in most cases, these companies are very truthful without having the certification”.

The existing trust in the Oceanic marketplace does not get mistreated, which helps to develop the industry. There are also “very diligent ‘consumer watchdogs’ that regulate misleading and deceptive claims quite effectively, which probably also helps level the playing field,” ​Carli added.

Labelling and marketers

When marketing products, labelling considerations are based on current trends and consumer preferences. Local plant extracts, for example, make an attractive label claim, along with animal cruelty-free items, Carli highlighted.

Unique formulations, for example, such as the thriving bee product material supply, including beeswax and bee venom, also have a considerable impact.

“When developing product briefs, marketers tend to look for natural ingredients from around the world and locally to include – with a big emphasis on efficacy and composition benefits including marine ingredients such as algaes, right through to extreme tolerant extracts from the Alps and the ‘superfoods’ trend,”​ Carli went on to say.

Performance and efficacy

These labelling concerns also have a big influence on R&D and formulation considerations, as claims and efficacy remain important.

Carli adds that “where performance can come from all natural selections this is especially favoured”.

While Carli admits that there are always challenges when formulating high-performance products to a certification standard, in both Australia and New Zealand, companies exist that either work to comply with certification challenges or demonstrate high levels of integrity when claiming natural without certification, she reveals.

The Future

Demand for natural ingredients and labelling on packaging already exists. Moving forward, Carli states that it is the raw material suppliers that “have risen to the challenge and are now providing chemists with solutions that were unavailable five or more years ago”.

As a result, this emphasis on raw materials enables chemists to now “create what was not possible before and to better please the ongoing demand for natural, whether it be certified or not!”,​ Carli concluded.

International labelling

While Carli positively supports the idea of a global label created for cosmetics and personal care packaging, she noted that it would “depend on the willingness of different organisations, which usually run for-profit, to cooperate”.

In Australia, for example, Australian Certified Organic adopts and accepts the rules of the natural and organic COSMOS cosmetics standard, but “this is not necessarily the case with other organisations in other countries, like NaTrue or BDIH”,​ Carli observed.

"For us to have one unified set of rules — which would be fantastic, not just for chemists but also for consumers!  — the organisations would have to agree and adopt one or another set of rules,”​ Carli noted.  

“How they choose whose rules, and profit share, are probably the barriers to such an ideal situation occurring,”​ Carli concluded.

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