Thursday, 21 October, 2021

Food, cosmetics… how to navigate the jungle of organic labels?


AB. These two letters on a green background, the French know them well to see them frequently on the packaging in the shelves and organic stores. 97% of the population knows this logo, moreover, indicates the latest Agence bio / CSA barometer. Although optional for a few years, the brand owned by the Ministry of Agriculture remains much better known than its European counterpart, Eurofeuille, which is only familiar to six in ten French people.

Two logos, therefore, to identify organic food products but the same guarantees: they “meet the same conditions of use” confirms the Ministry of Agriculture on its website. Among the main principles on which these labels are based is the non-use of chemicals and GMOs (even if traces of accidental contamination are tolerated up to 0.9%) and processed products must contain at least 95 % organic ingredients.

But for some players, these guarantees do not go far enough. Hence the existence of other lesser-known labels, backed by other specifications. Nature & Progrès, for example, a “private association brand”. Very present in the wine sector, Ou Demeter which occupies the niche of biodynamic agriculture (production method which reinforces the fertility and the health of the soils) since… 1932. “Demeter is present in about sixty countries. In France, we have 750 members and we have recorded 15% to 20% more members per year over the last two years “specifies Aurélie Truffat, communication manager of Demeter France. Contrary to European regulations, Demeter requires, among other things, the total conversion of the agricultural domain to organic and biodynamic.

Going further than the Eurofeuille guarantees is also Bio Cohérence’s ambition. This “young” label – it only appeared in 2009 – is carried by producers, processors, consumers and distributors like Biocoop. “This goes further than the European regulation”, with specific values ​​and specifications according to Orion Porta, the general manager of the specialist brand. For example, direct sales or through specialist stores are preferred. But this logo does not (yet) provide an element of differentiation for Biocoop. “It is not enough known, developed, deployed” specifies its general manager.

Myriad of labels in cosmetics too

To this myriad of labels – and there is already enough to lose the consumer – are added those concerning very specific products, such as cosmetics. A European benchmark called Cosmos has even seen the light of day, on the initiative of five European players including the French Cosmébio and Ecocert. You need at least 95% of ingredients of natural origin and “95% of what can be organic must be organic” explains Valérie Lemaire, director of Ecocert Greenlife, the subsidiary of the certification body Ecocert which is deals in particular in cosmetics with its own specifications and claims 1,200 customers including 650 in France. But if “before, it was the Tower of Babel and today, everyone talks about Cosmos” as Romain Ruth, the president of Cosmebio sums it up, the logos of the five initiators remain… Not easy to navigate.

Especially since other logos also exist in cosmetics, such as Natrue, another international initiative. Cosmebio and Ecocert still remain the labels most identified by the French. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, 47% and 30% of respondents know them respectively. Romain Ruth praises the well-known and recognized character of the Cosmébio label. According to him, there is therefore a risk of confusion for the consumer only by the abuse of the word around natural and organic on certain packaging, “green washing”. 38% of people who are not fans of natural and organic cosmetics do not believe in the terms “natural and / or organic”, moreover, specifies the Harris Interactive study.

Anne-Marie Gabelica, the founder of oOlution cosmetics, believes for her part that “it is complicated for the consumer because he is faced with different labels with different guarantees”, and this, even if she praises the approach of the labels which have “laid the foundations for healthier and more ecological cosmetics.” The one who worked for a time in a large cosmetics group has chosen to create her own 100% natural cosmetics and does not want less than 100% of organic plant active ingredients in her products: “Rather than taking refuge behind a label, I chose a simpler and more direct approach “: bet on transparency for the composition. She therefore made her choice, and despite the marketing advantage that this would give her, she refused any label. Despite this jungle, a potential source of confusion for consumers, the success of organic food cannot be denied: 80% of people questioned in the Harris Interactive survey buy organic food products at least from time to time.

Bio Agency