|Report Ranks Retailers on Safe Cosmetics|
by Amy Westervelt, Forbes
December 11th, 2012
After working with the industry for years to encourage the manufacture of non-toxic personal care products, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is now targeting retailers, encouraging them to make more space on shelves for the growing inventory of safe cosmetics. The Campaign released a report this morning ranking retailers on their commitment to offering consumers safer products. Whole Foods Market perhaps unsurprisingly tops a list that includes Walmart, Target, Macy’s, CVS, Walgreens, Costco, and Kroger, but according to spokesperson Margie Kelly that’s not just because of all the organic products the market carries, but because it has firm policies in place that require purchasers to consider the ingredients of personal care products before deciding to stock them on the markets’ shelves.
“Other retailers are beginning to work on policies related to safe cosmetics as well and I think we’ll see them move up the ranks in the future,” Kelly says. “There’s been a tremendous increase in consumer awareness around these products in the last six or seven years and we’re starting to see retailers respond to that pressure not only by giving more shelf space to alternatives, but also by reformulating their own private label products.”
The personal care products industry is worth an estimated $50 billion in the United States and personal care products are largely unregulated by the Food and Drug Administration, a fact that has prompted consumer health advocates to launch various public awareness campaigns over the years. That has led manufacturers to reformulate products and helped to create a market for the now-booming green cosmetics industry, which is expected to reach$5.8 billion in sales by 2016, according to market research firm Kline. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics “Retailer Therapy” report cites even more promising market research and points out the potential for retailers to increase sales by increasing their inventory of safe personal care products. “Market analysts at Packaged Facts forecast that the U.S. consumer market for natural and organic skincare, hair care, and makeup, which during 2005 to 2010 boomed 61% to $7.7 billion, could top $11 billion by 2016,” the report states.
“We very strategically waited until the safe cosmetics industry sector had grown in size and prominence so the retailers couldn’t argue that there wasn’t enough supply to meet that demand,” says Janet Nudelman, policy director for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. ”In the environmental health arena, for retailers to move, there has to be a ready supply of safer alternatives.”
So how did the retailers fare? Whole Foods Market (Whole Foods) is by far the leader, with policies in place to screen out more than 400 chemicals of concern from its premium products. It offers an extensive range of safer alternatives and communicates its safety commitments and progress clearly to the public. At the other end of the spectrum is Macy’s, which stated that government regulations are adequate to address cosmetics safety and that it trusted its vendors to ensure the products the company sells are safe. The company has a very limited selection of safer alternatives, with some of its stores not offering any alternatives at all. CVS leads the conventional retailers, with a publicly available policy on its cosmetics safety standards, a wide range of safer alternatives in many of its stores and a policy of phasing out chemicals of concern from its CVS brand baby products. The complete report, with rankings, is available here.
This is just the beginning of the conversation with retailers, according to Nudelman. As it has done with manufacturers, the Campaign plans to work with retailers to update their policies. “Cosmetic safety is a new conversation for many retailers,” she says. “We will be asking our supporter base to ask their favorite retailer to give their family the gift of safe cosmetics this holiday season, and we will be watching carefully to see how retailers respond to this report. We are eager to continue to be in dialogue with them about this critical public health issue.”