The Growing Natural & Organic Market

This “new & improved” mainstream version of the natural organic & market and its products are being embraced with considerably more success than when it was associated with a fringe lifestyle. It has proven itself to be quite a success as it re-enters this new, young market is experiencing growth that surpasses its conventional counterparts.

Kline, market researcher, tells us that sales of natural cosmetics market are nearly $30 billion, globally, increasing (10.6%+) in 2013.  Markets for Europe (6.5%+) and the United Sates (7.7%+)[1]

The market for Organic food, in the U.S., shows that 81% of all American families are reported to be  purchasing organic food at least some times.2  The Nutrition Business Journal puts the U.S. sales of natural & organic food and beverages saw 85% growth from 2005-2009 to reach $46.4 billion at wholesale vs. 2-3% annually for conventional products. [3]

Businesses within the natural & organic market, growers, producers, manufacturers, retailers, marketers, etc., we cannot dismiss the reasons customers are leaving conventional.

The top 5 reasons people are avoiding conventional for those offered by the  natural & organic market include:

  • Produced without GMO’s
  • Prohibited use of toxic pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones and chemical fertilizers
  • Climate friendly
  • Produced without use of nuclear irradiation
  • Fear of e-coli, salmonella, MRSA and other diseases from inhumane and filthy slaughterhouses[4]

The Natural & Organic Market is still a young market, especially in comparison to the market(s) it is up against. It is already experiencing growth that surpasses most of its competition. As manufacturers, retailers and marketers of this market, it is up to us to define and set the standards.  We have many different ways to do this that will lead to either success or failure for the market. We are all invested in this market.

Whether we manufacturer or sell, we are hoping  to build a reputation and a business, or the consumer who stands to have access to products that improve our health and our family’s health in every way, protects our environment and the ways animals can be endangered by industry.

The Natural & Organic market is still very new.  We will need to stand together as one unit that supports all parts, for the goal of promoting the betterment of people and planet.

As a whole, it is important to gain consumers’ confidence; proving and maintaining higher standards through the products and services we provide.

Throughout modern history, no other consumer trend in food or lifestyle has grown as quickly as the Organic Industry, with its 3400% increase in sales in only 24 years[5].

Unfortunately, there are some who feel a needed criticism of this industry, with its focus on Healthy People, Healthy Planet, has been promoting misinformation regarding the health and safety of organic products.

There are some who are saying the USDA Organic program lacks transparency  by not disclosing that health and safety are not factors for displaying the USDA organic seal, despite the USDA having done their own consumer poll.  The poll showed: 65% of polled say when they see the seal they believe it means the food is healthier, 70% say it represents safer and 46% say they believe it is more nutritious.

Many businesses have chosen to not pursue USDA Organic certifications, reasoning that the costs and fees are too high and the standards are much less than the manufacturers, growers and producers already set and maintain on their own.  Also being spoken is the lack of keeping to the original standards, instead bringing in big agribusiness and corporate representatives and moving out the voice of the organic farmer.  This seems to be warping and lowering the purity that organic was meant to have, incorporating too many synthetic and dangerous chemicals .

Cornicopia Institute, the watchdog of organic has been trying to bring to attention what has been taking place on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) their report in “USDA Organic Watergate” brings to our attention:

“Congress specifically earmarked the majority of the 15 seats on the NOSB for organic farmers, consumers, scientists and environmentalists as a way to balance the power of commercial interests involved in organic food manufacturing, marketing and retail sales.

Long term abuse congressional intent by the USDA which has stacked the board with agribusiness representatives, an illegal practice that has stretched over the past three administrations.”

This makes it clear that the USDA Organic Certification program has been willing to allow its standards to be set by the very businesses it was meant to protect against corruption from. [6]

There is also criticism of the organic industry’s claim of “alleged health benefits connected to the absence of GMO’s, hormones, antibiotics and pesticides….”[7]

Since the USDA has taken over the National Organic Standards Board, (NOSB) a 15 member volunteer board in place to make decisions organic standards and policy.  The USDA has been conducting business in secrecy, ignoring requests for transparency. The USDA has been violating the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) by appointing big agribusiness executives in the seats Congress deliberately set aside for independent “owning or operating” certified organic farms.[8]

Organic & Natural Market or Organic VS. Natural?

There is a considerable amount of misinformation is being propagated within the Natural & Organic Market, making it appear it is actually Natural VS USDA Organic Certified. For instance the following are commonly found ideas about the benefits of organic :

”Consumers are confused about the difference between conventional products marketed as “natural,” and those nutritionally and environmentally superior products that are “certified organic.” The same article continues to include, “In the majority of cases, “natural” products are greenwashed conventional products, with “natural” label claims neither policed nor monitored.”[9]

Another article informs:  “As a result, “natural” has been badly abused as a marketing technique, and tons of companies have used genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), synthetic chemicals, and growth hormones in the production of their “natural” foods.”[10]

Both these and many more examples take the approach that the only products that can be trusted are ones with organic certifications. There is rarely an instance where an all inclusive statements are appropriately applied.

Unfortunately, one of the negative effects of attempting to point out and discredit a competitor or rival company is that while you are drawing attention to them and enumerating what you believe to be their negatives, you are still drawing attention to them, bringing them into the spotlight.

Those who do have a seal, certification or label to back their claim, feel that these certifications proves they are producing/manufacturing merchandise with superior standards of quality, purity and environmental responsibility than businesses without 3rd party support.

There is too much confusion related to Green and organic seals, as of December, 2010, there were over 350 labels and seals of approval available, each one with its own requirements, standards, rules and levels of permissible non-organic materials. Each of these seals are meant to show that a product is green or healthy[11].

Adding to the confusion of so many certifications would be the false use to show the product or company has met or exceeded the requirements to use the seal without this having actually taken place.  TerraChoice’s report,  “Seven Sins of Greenwashing” refers to this in their report as “The Sin of Worshipping False Labels” Their report shows that during their investigations, they found from  2009 to 2010, this “Sin” increased  from 23.3% to 30.9%.[12]

Even the USDA Organic Certification has a “Sunset rule,” a National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.  The list includes both non organic and synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production, organic livestock production, as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” or “made with organic”[13]

While many businesses take considerable pride and feel validated from having a green certification or seal , there are still some businesses making the decision to not go the route of a green or organic certification. Often, when a body care company decides to not attach a seal or certification, they list reasons such as the USDA organic certification being more for agricultural and does not accommodate the personal care realm as well, the costs and fees would cause a price increase and the range of other seals being non standardized and confusing making them unappealing for the high costs and effort they require. [14]

A company’s decision to acquire a green certification or not does not mean the product in question would not pass the quality and purity standards.  There are many small businesses who hold themselves to the absolute highest of standards and would not consider use of any of the non-organic materials allowed by green certifications.  Many of these small growers, producers and manufacturers employ their own standards of tolerance at zero, based on personal beliefs and life choices.  They would  consider methods of tolerance for non-organic materials as discrediting the integrity of what they believe in.  Often, they have small businesses where fees, related costs and added work of organic/green certifications are not  a feasible option.

To finish, there will be a growing number of people waiting for any opportunity they need to wreck havoc to this market that is becoming a real threat to the conventional businesses.  It stands to reason that if the majority of those working to build this market feel a strong connection to their business and success of the market overall.

To give it our best chance, we must stop attacking each other, which will only serve to tear down the entire market from within.

If you see another business doing something you are fully aware is underhanded or inappropriate, look to see if they are governed by a seal or certification and if yes, file a complaint.  Otherwise, look for manufacturers or business with integrity, that offer similar products or services, possibly even in their area, and go out of your way to promote their competitor.

The Natural & Organic market needs to uphold the highest of standards in every way.  From who we are, what we to to how we deal with customers and each other.  With a market growing as fast and solid as this one, there is no reason why one company or business needs to feel ownership of every customer. Be generous, realize there are plenty today, and will be more tomorrow.

Conventional is running people off fast enough that we do not need to attack each other to remain in business.  Be the business that you would go to.  Offer the products that you would buy and treat your customers in the manner that would have you never consider going anywhere else.

Question:

How can we work together to preserve the integrity of this market as a whole?

Can you offer a  constructive manner of dealing with a business or individual  operating in a misleading/inappropriate/deceitful/unscrupulous/fraudulent/damaging way that could harm other businesses or the Natural & Organic market?

Article by this is written by poppy Benavides, owner of Spa Secrets 4 U, http://spasecrets4u.com, one of the businesses with a strong belief in the Natural & Organic market and desire to see it surpass and hopefully, extinguish the conventional.

 

[1] Natural trend continues as segment posts double digit sales growth, Andrew McDougall, 22-May- 2014, http://www.cosmeticsdesign-europe.com/Market-Trends/Natural-trend-continues-as-segment-posts-double-digit-sales-growth

[2] U.S. organic food market to grow 14% from 2013-18, by Stephen Daniells Jan 3 2014, http://www.foodnavigator-usa.com/Markets/US-organic-food-market-to-grow-14-from-2013-18

[3] Partnership Capital Growth Focus, Market Statistics Healthy Food & Beverage;

[4] 10 reasons people buy organic, Ronnie Cummins, April 24, 2014; EcoWatch Transforming Green; http://ecowatch.com/2014/04/24/10-reasons-consumers-buy-organic/

[5] Food Safety News, Report: Organic Industry Achieved 25 Years of Fast Growth Through Fear and Deception; by Dan Flynn April 22, 2014; http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/04/report-fast-growing-organics-industry-is-intentionally-deceptive/#.VFGajvnF8s9

[6] Cornicopia Institute; The Organic Watergate-White paper; http://www.cornucopia.org/USDA/OrganicWatergateWhitePaper.pdf

[7] Cornicopia Institute; The Organic Watergate-White paper; http://www.cornucopia.org/USDA/OrganicWatergateWhitePaper.pdf

[8] Cornicopia:USDA Maintains Pattern of Corporate Appointments, September 18, 2014; The Cornicopia Institute; http://www.cornucopia.org/2014/09/cornucopia-usda-maintains-pattern-of-corporate-appointments/

[9] Whole Foods and the myth of Natural; Organic Consumers Association; http://www.organicconsumers.org/whole_foods_unfi.cfm

[10] Organic v. Natural: Understand the Difference, Educate others, Max Goldberg January 2, 2011; Living Maxwell; http://livingmaxwell.com/organic-vs-natural-understand-the-difference-educate-others

11 Research: Americans overwhelmed with 350 green product certifications, most prefer a single comprehensive seal, December 8, 2010;

[12] Sins of Greenwashing report; Terrachoice 2010; http://sinsofgreenwashing.org/index35c6.pdf

[13] e-CFR Data, Title 7 Agriculture, Part 205 National Organic Program; Subpart G-Administrative. Title 7:Subtitle B: Chapter 1: Subchapter M: Part 205: Subpart G: http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?c=ecfr&SID=9874504b6f1025eb0e6b67cadf9d3b40&rgn=div6&view=text&node=7:3.1.1.9.32.7&idno=7

[14] Why we’re not certified organic (we think it’s a good thing); Annmarie Gianni Skin Care March 4, 2014; http://www.annmariegianni.com/why-were-not-certified-organic/

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