At the Sustain show in Sydney July 19-22, leading New Zealand organic certification company BioGro ran a NATRUE natural certification workshop for health and body care products to advise natural brand businesses about the purpose, scope and benefits of certification, what is allowed/not allowed in natural health and body care products, labeling requirements, market access and regulations, what is involved in getting certified and how to apply.

BioGro is the only local certification organization in the Australia New Zealand region offering natural cosmetic certification to the internationally recognised NATRUE standards. NATRUE is a non-profit organization based in Brussels, Belgium and founded in 2007 in a joint effort of several manufacturers. Among the leading brands being certified by NATRUE are Alverde, Lavera, Logona, Weleda, Dr Hauschka, Farfalla and Dr Bronners.

BioGro’s CEO Dr. Michelle Glogau says to qualify for NATRUE certification at least 75% of a product line has to be certified natural or organic. This is to avoid companies misleading consumers that the range is certified when only one or two products have been certified, through a halo effect. Dr. Glogau and business development manager Akiko Nicholls told Organic & Wellness News that BioGro became an accredited certifier with NATRUE in November 2011 and while they can offer worldwide certification, their efforts will focus on Australasia.

“Since there are no international set regulations on natural cosmetic products, 3rd party endorsement to confirm the products are ‘natural’ has become more important for consumer assurance and industry credibility. The main advantage of having BioGro as a local NATRUE certification agency is, effective communication (no major time difference) and on-site inspections by local auditors to save the cost.” Ms Nicholls says.

Dr Glogau is confident of signing several New Zealand and Australian cosmetic companies. “Trilogy is the first NZ company to be certified under the program and we already have a number of applications from Australian companies in process,” she says.

One of the advantages of the NATRUE program, is that there is flexibility to certify products as natural, organic, or made with organic, depending on your market and the type of product you are formulating. It recognizes that not all products can meet organic criteria (eg mineral-based products) and that products require preservatives to maintain stability and safety.

“North American surveys confirm that there is consumer confusion between the label ‘organic’ and ‘natural’ with consumers believing that they are both regulated,” Dr Glogau says. Many companies have taken advantage of this confusion, claiming products to be organic or natural when they contain only a small percentage of organic or natural ingredients.“Media such as television programs have been hitting hard against such greenwashing claims and we are responding to these and consumer concerns by offering a credible certification program to companies that are prepared to stand up to scrutiny by an independent body.”