Consumer group expects sharp rise in organic certification

By Guy Montague-Jones

The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) expects the number of organic certified personal care products in the US to rise sharply during 2008 as consumers pick up on the importance of certification.

The analysis is in line with the conclusions of a recent report from the market research firm Organic Monitor, which predicted extensive growth in certified natural and organic products.

Market growth combined with greater awareness of USDA certification is persuading manufacturers that certification is necessary in order to attract knowledgeable organic consumers, according to the OCA.

Consumers are tired of paying top dollar for cosmetics that are labeled organic but actually contain few organic ingredients.

The OCA said it expects 2008 to be breakout year for USDA certification with manufacturers responding to consumers who are looking for truly organic products.

"We are pleased that despite widespread misleading organic claims on shampoos, body washes and lotions made with synthetic surfactants, silicones and preservatives, numerous companies have stepped up to make real organic alternatives that will be widely available in 2008," said Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the OCA.

The organization said new USDA certified organic products hitting the market fall into several personal care categories although the majority were body care products.

Among the companies looking to release USDA certified organic products is Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

"We're excited to be introducing 18 new USDA certified organic personal care products this March ranging from shaving gels to a hair conditioning rinse," said David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.

The number of personal care companies seeking USDA certification has increased in recent years as consumer demand for organics has grown and their performance has improved.

Likewise, the organic market has come a long way since the USDA threatened to stop certifying personal care products in 2005 and was prevented from doing so after a successful lawsuit from the OCA and several cosmetics companies including Dr. Bronner's.

The US organic market is currently growing 7 percent annually and is worth $3.8bn, according to the market research firm Organic Monitor.

As well as expecting greater certification Organic Monitor also anticipates an increase in the number of companies looking to Europe to become certified, due to the lack of certification bodies in the US.