Skincare company calls for honesty

LAURA WALTERS
Last updated 11:30 25/07/2014
Carol Priest
Supplied
NO GREENWASH: "We need to be really honest about what we're using," Carol Priest says.

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A certified-organic skincare company wants regulation in a market that is deluged with green claims - some misleading and some downright false.

Carol Priest, the founder and formulator of skincare company Plantae, said brands should only be allowed to claim they were organic if they used organically certified ingredients.

"We need to be really honest about what we're using," she said.

The number of companies being certified by BioGro has increased 400 per cent in three years, but Consumer NZ said many other products claiming to be organic contained only a tiny amount of certified organic ingredients, or none at all.

Few "natural" or "organic" products had independent certification and the words were used as marketing catchphrases, Consumer NZ said.

The consumer watchdog said it wanted to see a consumer information standard for natural claims and tough enforcement of the standard.

Nelson-based Priest, who has worked in the industry for about 26 years and launched Plantae with her daughters in 2012, said there was growing customer demand for organic and natural products.

She first gained BioGro organic certification with her previous brand, Carol Priest, in 2006.

BioGro is a 30-year-old New Zealand organic certification scheme that required 95 per cent of the ingredients in a product to be organically certified.

Priest went through the complicated process of getting all her products BioGro-certified and had gained the trust of many female customers, she said.

"I think that the customer can always tell if you're authentic," she said.

Priest's daughter and Plantae sales and marketing manager Janelle Priest said that while there was a range of certification schemes in New Zealand and around the world, BioGro's high standard gave it credibility.

The organics market was regulated in 88 countries, which meant people in Europe and Australia were more educated about what to look for when it came to labelling, she said.

BioGro chief executive Michelle Glogau said consumers were increasingly demanding natural and organic health and bodycare products, but without market regulations or standards it was hard for consumers to know what was in their product.

"People are very trusting here," she said.

Luckily, consumers were becoming more aware of what to look for and more companies were moving towards becoming certified, she said.

BioGro now had 30 organically certified health and bodycare companies, compared to only six certified in 2011.

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The more companies that became certified, the more pressure there would be on others to get certification, Glogau said.

Overseas there was more demand for certification, which meant New Zealand organic health and bodycare companies wanting to export would find it harder if they were not certified.

There were other options for organic certification such as government-owned Asurequality, which required 70-95 per cent organically certified ingredients.

Other certified organics sold in New Zealand used international schemes like French-based Ecocert and Germany's BDIH.

- Stuff

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