TreeHuggers Show Some Skin for Bert, Juice, NOW, & Avalon

The NOW Natural Foods company, whose campus is shown here, is riding the natural personal care wave that mainstream media and cosmetics retailers have missed. Who'd have thought that the "big stink" you get when entering almost any department store's cosmetics department would be offensive to TreeHuggers? From the July issue of Cosmetics Design comes a report that personal care products labeled as "natural" or "organic" have shown double digit sales growth over the last three years. Highlights include that the natural personal care market had: "an estimated value of $5 billion in 2004 as consumers seek out chemical-free alternatives"...[and have]..."grown by a total of 50 per cent since 2000". And, "Breaking the figures down into market segments, skin care is the leading segment of the market with a value of $3 billion, while hair care has had the strongest growth over the five-year period".

"One small company that is responding to the trend is Now Foods, a maker of natural food products and supplements"...."Other smaller natural ingredient manufacturers include Burt's Bees — which expanded into cosmetics after starting off as a manufacturer of furniture polish — as well as Avalon Natural Products and Juice Beauty, which both feature a high percentage of organic products in their formulations".

================= UPDATE ==================
Just reported today: AP WASHINGTON - "The government is reversing its decision to yank the "USDA Organic" seal from lotions and lip balms and will now allow cosmetics to carry the round, green label. An organic soap company and a consumer group had sued the Agriculture Department for ordering removal of the distinctive seal. Without the government seal, the word organic is "just a fluff marketing claim," David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, said Wednesday. "It's kind of a truth in advertising thing — consumers can trust that it is indeed free of synthetics and does support organic farming and agriculture," said Bronner, whose company and the Organic Consumers Association had sued the department in June...The department created the label three years ago for food and other products grown without pesticides or fertilizer and made with all-natural, chemical-free ingredients...Department officials decided in April they didn't have the authority to regulate cosmetics and ordered companies to remove the USDA seal. Late Tuesday, one day before a deadline to respond to the lawsuit, the department issued a memo reversing its decision".
Two equally plausible explanations: 1.) what happened is what happened. USDA saw controversy within the personal care products industry over use of organic declaration for non-food items and decided that the rules for "organic" labeling did not really apply to personal care products (arguably moving into FDA jurisdiction). Responding, subsequently, to a long time organic products company that had already heavily invested in certification, USDA doubled-back to the way things were in the first place, protecting the value of that company's branding investment and again raising the bar for mainstream cosmetics formulators who want to claim "organic" or perhaps just "natural" on their labels. 2.) everything is the same as item #1, but add in the lobbyists representing traditional personal care companies who feared loss of market share to new suppliers. Whew. That was a close one.

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