It is not enough to be organic or natural. One’s should be perfect! Or, at least, try to be. For example, by eliminating from formulas any suspect (according to the media) ingredient, ensuring that absolutely no animal has been used in the different development stages of the product and, increasingly, in building ethical supply-chains.

Clarify the concept

Opening of the Fair Trade Fortnight in France [1], insiders of the perfumes and cosmetics industry operating in the fair trade business met in Marseille on the 13th of May 2011 to share their experiences. The event was supported by Technico Flor, a fragrance supplier well known for its natural ranges and eco-labels, and, more recently, for its Natfair line, which features natural fragrances and fair trade sourced ingredients.

Hosted by the UNIDO (the United Nations for Industrial Development) and Chakib Jenane, the organisation’s Director of Agro-Industries, around Valérie Roubaud (Terre d’Oc), Patrick Collin (Golgemma), François-Patrick Sabater (Technico Flor) and Jerome Vaquier (Ecocert), participants have expressed their interest but also their need for explanations.

Actually, what exactly is a trade fair cosmetic? It is primarily a product with an

François-Patrick Sabater

François-Patrick Sabater

ethical approach of trade, including the establishment of a partnership between the mark and some of its suppliers, usually small producers within developing countries. Fair trade is very consistent with the formulation of natural or organic cosmetics, because it fits perfectly in with sustainable development goals.

Today certification is growing fast in this area as well. Max Havelaar, has started to certify cosmetic products, the association Bio Partner certifies - with the labels Bio Équitable and Bio Solidaire - various raw materials such as argan or vanilla, and in 2008 Ecocert created the ESR (équitable, solidaire, responsable) organic and fair trade label.

Fair trade in practice

Valérie Roubaud

Valérie Roubaud

This meeting was an opportunity to share everybody’s field experiences. Valérie Roubaud, CEO of Terre d’Oc, described its involvement in Vietnam with concrete and strong social actions, such as health care coverage for all workers. Patrick Collin, Director General of Golgemma, a producer and marketer of essential oils, has presented its personal experience in the economic assistance of small Malagasy producers, thus also allowing them to develop quality products.

In the opinion of all participants, fair trade carries strong values that company employees naturally seize. Speakers also noted that this a long-term investment that often requires a mobilization that is more human than financial.