Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016 Review: Day Two

Reviewing day two of the Natural Cosmetics Conference 2016, where we step back and get a perspective much larger than cosmetics.

TTIP, consumer protection, conflict palm oil, research on skin hydration, best practices to break into the US market – day two topics packed a punch.

Moleskines out!
Next Conference:
26-27 September 2017,
Hotel Ellington, Berlin.
Get info/ tickets here.


Natural Cosmetics Conference Day Two:
Sales Channels & Market USA

I had to miss the very first talk that presented a comparison of traditional sales channels organic foods shop and health shop (Reformhaus in Germany); best practice scenarios were also presented, but that’s also not exactly my main point of interest – we’re very digital over here 😉

What was awesome, and I picked up information from this panel later because I went to the palm oil presentation given in the same time, were tips for European brands interested in the US market.wolf-ludge-us-market-expertsWolf Lüdge and US market experts© Fritz-Wicho Herrmann-Kümper

Here a very quick breakdown, and it might be as well incomplete; as I said, I wasn’t attending:
1. “Clean” is the major growth factor of natural/ organic cosmetics in mainstream markets
2. The three highest percent sales growth categories are Aromatherapy and Body Oils, Hair Care, Soap & Bath
3. B Corp is the ultimate certification for European green brands for breaking into the market
4. Product trends include instant solutions like dry shampoos and colour cosmetics, no-make-up look, and ethic hair products
5. Recommendations from trusted sources are the most relevant ones and include friends, influencers/ bloggers and renowned experts

Natural Cosmetics Conference Review:
Conflict Palm Oil

Frustration was the bottom line of the palm oil panel. Two presentations, one by the panel host Gerald Herrmann (Organic Services), another by Ute Griesbach (BASF), showed us – in numbers – the scale of devastation and the hunger for the raw materials palm oil and palm kernel oil. Not that I’m a palm oil expert but this utterly saddening reminder just made me feel worse as an informed consumer.

I’m going to talk about palm oil later and will refer to the numbers and strategies mentioned here by the experts, so let me just break down the most basic facts from the palm oil session:
1. Palm oil is a natural and renewable raw material – which doesn’t make it sustainable as is – more pressure from consumers and companies is needed
2. Palm oil/ palm kernel oil is used in skincare but also in pharmaceutical products – and of course palm oil is irreplaceable for the food industry (so asking for a palm-oil free soap if you just ate a box full of delicious palm-oil-drenched cookies is probably not making you a consumer saint)
3. Coconut is the only alternative to palm kernel oil in terms of their similar fatty acids profiles but unfortunately NOT AT ALL in terms of sustainable sourcing
4. And now the worst thing: there is not even enough genuinely sustainable RSPO certified palm (kernel) oil to satisfy the needs of the industry
5. Agriculture expert Tobias Bandel of Soil & More provided some insights on making sustainable agriculture practices – soil management, waste management, soil fertility – relatable and financially interesting for palm oil farmers.

Natural Cosmetics Conference Review:
TTIP, Genuine Natural Cosmetics, R&D

Politicians joined the expert panel on consumer protection and TTIP: Renate Künast (German Green Party) discussed with Dr. Karin Gromann (Federal Ministy of Health in Vienna, Austria) the need for comprehensible labelling of organic skincare and the strategic relevance of synergetic collaborations between organic skincare, organic food and organic and eco-fair fashion. The best case from Austria was about a synergetic promotion of touristic regions together with the foods from those regions.

So, dear founders in green food, fashion and cosmetics: listen up and pick your buddies!ttip-and-consumer-protection-panelPoliticians, consumer advocates, green entrepreneurs discuss© Fritz-Wicho Herrmann-Kümper

Brief TTIP statements from BDIH, Natrue, Ecocert and Cosmos complemented the following written statement from Silke Schwartau (Department Manager Food & Nutrition, consumer protection Hamburg) highlighting the most vital consumer worries:

1. Dilution of European high standards for consumer safety
2. Reduced transparency on GMO products
3. Reduction of blacklisted ingredients
4. Private courts could lever out democratically legitimated laws and standards
5. The trade agreement can mean a huge step backwards for animal welfare, biodiversity, sustainability and ethics.

Finally, the last presentations – by Rainer Voegeli (DSM) on the latest in skin hydration research and by Inga Nandzik (Sturm & Drang) on the shift in our perception of natural beauty in the digital world – put cosmetics back into the limelight.


The 10th Natural Cosmetics Conference
Coming Up In 2017: The Wish List

As announced at the Conference, Wolf Lüdge of hessnatur fame will be the new head of the specialist publishing house naturkosmetikverlag starting January 2017; Elfriede Dambacher remains Natural Cosmetics Conference chairwoman. This move aligns with one of the day one topics, that of moving from founder generation to manager generation smoothly – key word generational change. Lüdge works in the field of “Natural Leadership”: shall we expect more insights on successful ethical management in 2017? This certainly is an excellent topic since many natural skincare companies evolved as family businesses.

I hope that after the – rather frustrating – panel on conflict palm oil vs. RSPO certified palm oil (view above) we can meet someone that manages to source fully organic palm kernel oil in 2017.

Certainly I’d love to see more hands-on tech presentations like that of barcoo’s Benjamin Thym because digitalisation is not only about having a corporate Twitter account.

Data ownership should be a biggie with the green community.

Creative sustainable packaging was such a lovely highlight, I think this is something many participants would like to explore further.

What could be a great topic in 2017 is a presentation that helps companies sort out the social media salad with storytelling dressing: “where do I have to be?”, “is Snapchat where all the cool kids are?”, “where do I get content from?”, “can I have ten thousand Facebook likes?”, “how do I approach bloggers and how on Earth do I measure their influence?”… Storytelling needs to be demystified. Storytelling begins in the jar of your cream, includes your customer relations, reaches all the way to the company philosophy. It’s not new, it just needs your attention.

In other news: how to deal with the demand for transparency, how to inform while creating an emotional context? These are questions I heard during the Conference and I do hear a lot – and help people sort out – in the cosiness of my little corner of content creation.

P.S. Before the Conference:
Trend Tour & Belladonna Reception

As always the day prior to the Conference, the optional Trend Tour, exclusive to Conference visitors, takes interested participants to outstanding retail hotspots for natural and organic cosmetics in Berlin. In 2016, the tour bus headed for, among others, a novel DIY cosmetics store, a beauty concept store, and ended at Belladonna in Berlin-Kreuzberg.

For those not in the know:
Belladonna is Berlin’s first organic beauty shop, founded in 1984 by Elfriede Dambacher – today head of the specialist publishing house
naturkosmetikverlag, industry expert and Natural Cosmetics Conference chairwoman. Run since the late nineties by Dambacher’s successors, Belladonna offers organic, natural and near-natural brands. The Berlin store has relocated within the hip Bergmannstrasse neighbourhood and opened a second store in south German Freiburg, a town known for its high ecological standards.

belladonna-berlin-receptionBelladonna owners, Berlin shop as shared previously on Instragram

The Belladonna reception was a lovely moment of cherishing the history of the strong organic movement in Germany. It was the first time I went to the store after their relocation. I had the surprising opportunity to meet the shop’s first customer, a very charming lady. We exchanged our product expectations and experiences, our thoughts regarding pioneer brands, market development, society and environment, ingredient checks now and then (imagine: I used to carry around a record card with all the E numbers and ingredients to avoid) – it was a blast.

Our hosts then shared with us some milestones and stories from the past, and I thought this one was the most remarkable: during Belladonna’s first years the shop had to double as an organic corner shop because organic skincare brands were too few, and not all beauty products were good enough in terms of texture, smell or shelf life… Thirty years forward, and you can find organic skincare that performs way better than conventional.

So here’s to many, many more years of green! 😉

For impromptu posts on all things green consumer/ green business as well as for spontaneous video tours follow me on Instagram.


Geeking out about all things truly green, healthy and ethical over at (Avatar illustration by A. Goncharenko)

10 Responses

  1. Finally I can comment again. A bloggers life can be fun but sometimes I would love to through the towel. Was this a too German saying? Not sure how to say it in English, but I am sure you understand what I tried to say 😀

    Anyway, it is always a so interesting to read more about sustainable topics although it makes me quite nervous how our future might look like.

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