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Fair Trade Cosmetics Gain Momentum

December 8, 2008

As the European market for natural and organic cosmetics gets ready to break the $2 billion barrier for the first time this year, there’s greater interest in fair trade policies as well as green chemistry and packaging. According to new report on fair trade cosmetics and ingredients from Organic Monitor, many companies are implementing fair trade sourcing policies, with some launching certified fair trade products. Most product launches have been in the French market, which now has the largest number of cosmetic products with the internationally recognized Fair Trade mark.

According to Organic Monitor, although The Body Shop has been the pioneer in ethical sourcing with its Community Trade program, the company is losing out to newcomers. A number of natural and organic cosmetic companies are setting up fair trade grower projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Some are growing endangered plant species and investing in social community projects.

The London-based consultancy’s report evaluates the business potential of fair trade cosmetics and ingredients, giving details of standards, certification and market potential. The study predicts adoption rates to rise as natural and organic cosmetic products become mainstream and as more certified fair trade ingredients become available. A major restraint to market growth is the limited number of certified fair trade ingredients.

According to Organic Monitor, the mainstreaming of the natural and organic cosmetics market is encouraging fair trade practices. Firms such as Weleda, for example, are investing in fair trade projects to guarantee supply of organic ingredients and to encourage sustainability. The entry of large cosmetic companies and leading retailers is straining supply of natural and organic cosmetic ingredients. Corporate social responsibility is also coming to the forefront as brands compete for limited retailer shelf space.

With a growing number of natural and organic cosmetic companies adopting fair trade practices, Organic Monitor predicts some convergence between standards. A number of organic certification agencies are already integrating fair trade practices into their standards, and this will enable cosmetic companies to bridge the gap between green and ethical products, according to organization, and the markets for fair trade cosmetics is expected to rise, the organization noted.

More info: www.organicmonitor.com
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