June 2012

Commentary

Green is here to stay…
May is a very popular month for trade shows, seminars and conferences, not just
for the packaging industry, but across most industries. The staff of Spray did its
fair share of gallivanting around the U.S. in order to attend as many pertinent
events as possible to learn more about where the industry is heading.

If there was one thing I heard more than any other last month it was “sustainability,” “Green” and “naturals. Indeed, the Consumer Specialty Product’s Association’s entire Mid-Year Meeting was dedicated to the theme of “Sustainability Driving Future Consumers, Future Markets.” Well, you say, this is nothing new—this is something we’ve been hearing about for almost a decade now, so what?

What I believe the difference was this year is that much was made of implementation and success, rather than projections, as in “we need to start doing this” and “consumers are beginning to demand that.” For instance, talking to suppliers at the New York Society of Cosmetic Chemist’s Supplier Day, many explained that their latest innovative ingredient made skin or hair or nails softer or stronger or harder (as it were), and by the way, their new chemical is compatible with most organic or Green or “natural” formulations.
Companies were proud of it, happy to talk about their organic- or sustainability compatible ingredient, but no longer was this singled out as the most important factor. “Green” ingredients are becoming mainstreamed, and I for one, am happy to hear it.

It was much the same at Luxe Pack New York. Not one seminar focused on sustainable packaging exclusively, yet at almost every discussion I attended, it was discussed as a matter of course. There’s no going back now, “Green” is here to stay, even in the most unlikely of places.

For instance, Organic Monitor reports there is healthy growth in the Middle-Eastern market for natural cosmetics in spite of political instability and social unrest; this particular study finds affluent consumers and tourists generate most demand for natural and organic cosmetics in the region as product penetration is increasing in pharmacies, beauty retailers and department stores.

Organic Monitor also estimated that global sales of natural and organic beauty products reached an estimated $9 billion last year and predicts revenues to climb to $14 billion in 2015. These products have 2% share of global personal care product sales, but in some countries—such as the U.S., Germany and Austria—the market share is reaching 10%. Companies are entering the naturals arena either through acquisition or through development of their own lines. Private labels are also becoming prominent for natural personal care products. They are most successful in Germany, where they comprise about 20% of natural personal care product sales.

Research firm Kline & Co. indicates that more mass market brands are recognizing the vitality and viability of the naturals segment; by increasing the channels of distribution and allowing consumers easier access to natural products will ultimately contribute to
the segment’s growth.

“Natural personal care is not a fad, but a genuine movement that’s manifesting itself in ever diverse product applications,” said Kline’s Consumer Industry Manager Nancy Mills. “The consumer is better educated, and this can serve the marketer well, particularly as credible certification standards are being implemented and recognized.”

Three or four years ago, I was skeptical about the future of Green products and packaging, thinking it indeed may be a “fad,” but I’ve seen firsthand that our industry is not only capable of creating new brands, but of reinventing them more holistically, from ingredients and formulations to packaging and advertising.

Ava Caridad, Editor