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Mother Nature part 2: Local sources and biotech

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Mother Nature part 2: Local sources and biotech
Industry experts are calling for beauty and personal care brands to upgrade their use of natural and sustainable ingredients and adapt these to the modern environmental picture.

Green strategies

Sharing her views on the main challenge facing the leading players, Sharon Kwek, Senior Innovation and Insights Analyst, beauty and personal care, Mintel highlighted that this obstacle is greater “when sales volumes are higher for bigger companies, particularly as they need to meet high demands while staying true to a green strategy”.

The use of organic oils in skin care products, for example, is an area where this exists. This is particularly so with rose oil, as Kwek pointed out, that it takes approximately 100 roses to produce around 5 ml of rose oil.

Niche brands, on the other hand, are “well-positioned to centre their brand stories around local sourcing”.

Auckland-based skincare brand, Girl Undiscovered,  is one example of a company that has already adopted this trending approach to ingredient use. The enterprise sources natural ingredients from Myanmar and focuses on fostering close relationships with the local farmers and their families.

“This is possible when volume is kept to a minimum, but as with most businesses, growth is always among a business’s key objectives,”​ said Kwek.

Sustainability in operations

A significant amount of focus is placed on sustainability: “Though there will always be a way to go about things, sustainability will continue to be a key challenge for the long-term.”

A considerable difficulty that brands must overcome is “ensuring that there is ample supply to meet demand”​, noted Kwek. As a result, companies could start to look at growing their own ingredients to lower costs and to strengthen their brand messaging.

Singapore label Spa Esprit Group—a company with Browhaus, Qi Mantra and Strip under its belt—works in partnership with Edible Garden City to cultivate and hand harvest homegrown plants and herbs in a 10,000 square-foot rooftop garden at Raffles City, for example.

When brands look to scale local productions, sustainability also becomes a key concern: “When we expect products to be natural and organic, and also come with a significant shelf life, brands will need to work harder to make that happen,”​ added Kwek.

Organisations need to carefully consider this approach as “it will not be possible to solely rely on nature in the long run”.

The biological approach

These names will strive to utilise safe, allergen-free, pure, and efficacious ingredients through science to replace the harvesting of natural ingredients.

Biotechnology “boosts the merging of naturals and technology to ensure the safety and purity of ingredients and formulations”,​ Kwek noted.

Lu Ming Tang in China is one such company that takes traditional tea ingredients and supersizes them with Bio-Remedy Trio Complex to create a high definition de-pollutant.

Commenting on the relationship between beauty and biotechnology moving forward, Kwek highlighted that global intelligence firm, Mintel, is looking at the marriage between agriculture and technology (agritech). Here, companies will “use robotics, automation or biotechnology to maximise yields”.

The future of nature

In addition, aeroponics and hydroponics are proving “alternatives to explore when harvesting natural ingredients”.

We asked Kwek what she thought the natural segment will look like a year from now: “The focus on the natural segment will extend from the safety profile of an ingredient to its source.”

Urban farming will also crop up more and more: “The future lies in sourcing ingredients that yield naturally from urban spaces, and further educating consumers on urban farming.”

Provenance and a strong backstory will be pivotal in supporting this too. The former will “add another layer to a brand’s story, highlighting the origins of ingredients used and insights into the country or region of origins, and shine into the spotlight the local growers behind the brand”.

The latter will also help to create a “closer relationship between brands and consumers, and a greater appreciation for the brand among consumers”.

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