UK Organic & Natural Beauty Market Continues to Flourish Despite Brexit Concerns


LONDON, United Kingdom — Sales of certified organic and natural beauty products rose to £86.5m in 2018, adding to eight consecutive years of significant growth, found a new report from leading organic certifier Soil Association.

Despite Brexit uncertainty threatening the organic food and beauty industry generally – a concern raised by the Soil Association Charity CEO Helen Browning in a recent letter to the government – the report suggests a shift in consumer mindset and the impact of entrepreneurial and ethical brands are all driving growth.

“This report shows the continuing growth of the certified organic and natural beauty sector in the UK, which is at an all-time high,” commented Martin Sawyer, CEO of Soil Association Certification, in the 2019 report.

“We believe this growth will build as more millennials and Generation Z come into the market, more retailers stock certified brands and sustainable beauty becomes increasingly relevant,” he said, adding that a 100% increase in ingredients certified to COSMOS standards is helping “to provide clarity of standards and labelling to consumers”.


The report identified a 14% growth in sales across the UK, following a 24% rise in 2017, with young generations of increasingly conscientious shoppers driving the change. “More than any other generation before them, millennials are concerned with their impact on the environment,” commented Aurelia Ziomek, Health and Body Care Buyer at organic supermarket Planet Organic.

“Having more disposable income and starting their families, millennials influence not only their own consumer choices but more importantly future generations.”

Two further trends highlighted in the report that are boosting the sector include a “shift towards holistic beauty” and a “step towards kindness to the planet”, with a 175% increase in vegan product launches and innovations in the war on plastic and packaging fuelling growth.

At present, however, only 50% of packaging is recycled in the bathroom, compared with 90% in the kitchen but the Soil Association Certification is supporting businesses to find sustainable packaging solutions. Despite the positive results, the report found UK consumer spending is lower than many other European counterparts. In Germany, for example, the per capita spend on organic and natural cosmetics is €15 per year, while in the UK it’s significantly lower at €5.2.

This presents an opportunity for UK business, but with Brexit looming there are considerable concerns held by both consumers and companies, which are yet to be navigated.


Sawyer noted a word of caution surrounding the impact Brexit could have on the organic sector, echoing concerns raised by the Soil Association Charity chief to the government’s environment secretary Mr Gove. “In the event of no deal [Brexit], there is the real prospect of a prolonged period during which organic exports to the EU could become impossible.”

Browning, who runs her own mixed organic farm in Wiltshire, wrote. Around 8% of the UK’s £2.3bn organics market currently goes abroad, mainly to EU countries. If a deal is not agreed, organic certifiers like the Soil Association cannot apply for official recognition until after Britain is recognised as a “third country” like Switzerland, and the government estimates that process alone will take nine months. She urged the government to “explore every avenue” to ensure business can continue uninterrupted after March 29, and provide compensation where necessary.

“It will be hard to win back the lost custom, and some UK businesses are already incurring costs as they take mitigating measures such as stockpiling materials,” she added.

In the report, Sawyer emphasised the need for the organic beauty market to champion its cause for the greater good of the wellbeing industry. “As a sector, we need to shout loudly about what certified organic and natural beauty is and what it delivers,” he said.

“2019 will be a year of uncertainty in many areas with Brexit, but there is no doubt that the tide has turned on sustainable beauty and wellbeing. “Certified organic and natural products are well placed to have a strong impact in the coming year, [and can be]innovators and leaders in the sector overall.”

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