The final version of the Cosmos standard has recently been announced. The launch comes after six years of negotiations between the leading natural & organic cosmetic certification agencies in Europe: BDiH (Germany), Soil Association (UK), Ecocert (France), Cosmebio (France), ICEA (Italy) and Ecogarantie (Belgium). Combined, these agencies provide certification to about 1,000 cosmetic companies and 10,000 products
Certification of the new Cosmos standard is expected to begin in September 2009. There has been much anticipation of the new natural & organic cosmetic standard, initially perceived as the basis of a possible international standard. However Cosmos is believed to be losing impetus because of its lengthy gestation period. A number of new initiatives, introduced in the last 18 months, are gaining momentum and could outpace Cosmos.
NaTrue is the main rival. The industry group launched its standard in May 2008, with the first certified products coming into the market at the end of the year. The popularity of the NaTrue standard is partly because it is backed by some of the leading brands of natural cosmetics.
A number of developments are occurring in the USA. In 2007, there were no standards for natural & organic cosmetics. Three separate initiatives are now moving forward with the backing of large cosmetic manufacturers.
The frontrunner is Natural Products Association (NPA), which launched its natural standard in May 2008. Over 200 products are now certified according to the NPA standard. Burt’s Bees is one of the main supporters of the NPA standard, providing US $1 million to raise awareness of the new standard and NPA logo.
The NSF standard is expected to gain popularity. The NSF 305 standard is for cosmetic products that contain a minimum of 70% organic ingredients. Developed by leading organic cosmetic companies, it has recently received official recognition by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The main rival to the NSF 305 standard is OASIS, supported by large companies like Aveda and Hain Celestial.
Similar developments are occurring in Latin America and the Asia-Pacific where a number of private standards have been introduced.
Organic Monitor expects the standards that provide regional coverage to be the most successful. The major attraction of the Cosmos standard is that it is a pan-European initiative. Cosmetic and ingredient companies only need to meet this single standard to get recognition in the European market. However, a major drawback of Cosmos is that it will not replace any of the existing symbols and logos. For this reason, initial interest in Cosmos is expected to come mainly from companies who already have products certified by the Cosmos member organisations.
NaTrue is winning support because of its uniform labelling scheme. The standard has three levels: organic, made with organic ingredients, and natural. Thus, certified products carry identical symbols, unlike Cosmos certified products.
The NaTrue standard is also taking the lead for a possible global natural & organic cosmetics standard. It has already entered an equivalency agreement with NSF for its made with organic ingredients standard. A similar equivalency agreement with NPA for the natural standard is scheduled to be signed in July. These equivalency agreements are important as they prevent repeat certification of products and can facilitate market access. Thus, a European company adopting the NaTrue standard will be able to access the North American market by getting its products certified by NSF and / or NPA.
To conclude, the Cosmos standard has been much anticipated by organisations looking to develop natural & organic cosmetics and ingredients for the European market. NaTrue has a much lower adoption rate than the Cosmos members, however its major advantage is a uniform labelling scheme. With its strategic tie-ups with American certification agencies, NaTrue is also providing access to the lucrative North American market.
Posted: June 11th 2009