Special Newsletter natural and organic labelling

How beneficial is an international natural labelling standard?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

International natural labelling standard

Related tags: Cosmetics, Belinda carli, Euromonitor international

With natural actives becoming a commonplace element of many formulators' ingredient lists and as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ISO 16128 provides guidelines on definitions for natural and organic cosmetic ingredients, we explore how beneficial a globally-recognised and applied natural labeling standard is. 

In November 2016, Lisa Holmes, Survey Manager at Euromonitor International reported that despite being largely unregulated, natural beauty and personal care shoppers trust natural product elements and ingredients​.

Euromonitor International went on to state how the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and regulatory bodies including The Danish Council on Ethics and the FDA were calling for a ‘natural’ definition, with the former taken legal action relating to companies that have used misleading natural claims on products where synthetic ingredients have been used.

No definition, no impact?

While only 26% of survey respondents believe that natural is a regulated label”,​ the majority of those asked in 2016 were not concerned about the lack of an unequivocal definition and it did not appear to deter consumers from committing to natural and organic products.

In turn, this is having a productive impact on brands that are leveraging R&D initiatives, formulation plans and marketing campaigns that contain the natural claim. Natural labelling appears to be a winning formula with both brands and consumers alike, as it acts as a launch pad to market share and customer loyalty.

New developments build trust

Next generation materials, natural alternatives with extracts and preservatives​ including nanomaterials and antimicrobials are all proving popular with researchers, producers and promoters, as it bolsters both innovation and the extended shelf life of products. 

As consumers in Asia-Pacific nations, particularly Japan, China and India are engaging with brands and goods that promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle, companies are diversifying their natural ranges. This then creates added opportunities to utilise natural labels and build trust with target demographics.

Before and after imagery showing the benefits of using natural-based solutions is also adding to the credibility and perceived reliability of natural products​.

Growing segment

At present, the natural active ingredients segment has a total market share of 25% to 30%, with this figure expected to double by 2023.

As the segment remains attractive to buyers and is expected to continue to be a popular choice for manufacturers, price wars that achieve viable margins may become a staple of the natural and organic sector.

To stay afloat in such a competitive market, active ingredient manufacturers have to focus on R&D, establish effective distribution channels, and collaborate with personal care product manufacturers to better understand their pipeline of new products,”​ said Raghu Tantry, Visionary Science Principal Analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

Controlled release technologies and encapsulation​ are now expected to enable formulators to produce more opportunities for the inclusion of natural active ingredients, and consequently, natural labelling. 

Theoretical versus practical implications

An international labelling standard, therefore, theoretically would appear to only strengthen the existing trust in natural features and ingredients that consumers have in the market.

“For us to have one unified set of rules — would be fantastic, not just for chemists but also for consumers!”​ Belinda Carli, Director, Institute of Personal Care Science in a recent article on the progression of raw materials. 

However, practically, this may prove problematic: “The organisations would have to agree and adopt one or another set of rules,”​ Carli noted.  

The second and last part of the ISO 16128​ will be published next year, Dr Laurent Sousselier at Unitis — the European Organisation of Cosmetics Ingredients Industries and Services — stated.

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