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Studies show that the natural personal care market grew by nearly 15% annually between 2005 and 2010, compared to 4% for the overall market. Growth is strong in all regions, with Brazil leading the charge. In Europe, the largest region, Germany is the most developed market for natural beauty products. Marie-Laure Roumiguière, Pharma & Personal Care Category Manager at Cargill, discusses the shape of the market and how it is changing.
When did the market for natural beauty care start?
For me, about 5-10 years ago. In the beginning it was a very niche market, one where consumers were willing to forgo texture in order to have natural ingredients. Then this trend got bigger and bigger. Now it has transformed into a durable market need. The natural category is the fastest growing one in the beauty market.
What has spurred this growth?
Manufacturers have worked with suppliers like Cargill to gradually improve the performance and properties of products that use natural ingredients. Consumers no longer have to make a sacrifice to ‘go natural,’ so to speak. Because of this, natural personal care products are no longer a niche product. Nor do consumers have to pay more. Personal care products with natural ingredients are becoming more affordable.
Also the demand for natural personal care products is part of a larger societal transformation. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environment and sustainability. So the demand isn’t only driven by product features but by the global evolution of consumer behavior in the marketplace.
What challenges do manufacturers face?
Beauty products really took off in the latter half of the 20th century. They were driven by advances in chemistry and synthetic materials.
But making the switch to natural ingredients means you have to redefine your product formulation. It’s much closer to food production than to chemistry.The first challenge is performance. You can’t just replace a synthetic product with a natural one. You have to rework the entire formulation, because it can be difficult to obtain an equivalent product performance, such as texture or smell. Then there’s the quality of raw materials. Customers tell us that they think it’s difficult to have natural ingredients with consistent quality, and they’re right to a certain extent. Natural ingredients are based on plants, and plants have cycles. Summer crops are different from winter ones. So you need to know how to control quality upstream in the agricultural supply chain, something that Cargill has long experience in. We know how to extract the natural ingredients to have standardized products at the end of the production process.
Finally, there’s the agricultural supply chain itself. Are adequate quantities of raw materials available to keep pace with increasing demand for natural personal care products? Again, Cargill has long experience in this area.
Do consumers understand the differences between terms like organic, natural, green, etc.?
I think there’s quite a lot of confusion. So consumers use eco-labels like Ecocert and Natrue to guide them in their choices. Manufacturers are also trying to make things clearer. They are introducing natural brands with strong promises about the origins of the ingredients. In both cases, Cargill can help manufacturers comply with these requirements. For example, we have several ingredients in our portfolio that meet the most popular eco-label requirements.
Where is the market going?
Natural beauty products are here to stay. At Cargill, for example, we are doing ongoing work with manufacturers to replace synthetic polymers with natural ones. And many brands are increasing the percentage of natural ingredients in
their products. So inevitably, personal care products will become even more natural.
The next big trend I see is sustainability, which is a growing concern in the personal care industry. Sustainability covers the way ingredients are sourced and sustainable production. It implies developing products with no or less impact on the environment. Here too, Cargill can help, thanks to our strong experience in the food business, where we’ve implemented these kinds of changes already. We can support customers in optimizing sustainability.