Natural and Organic Cosmetics in Russia: Interview with the Head of the Moscow Organic Fair EcoCityExpo
Natural and organic cosmetics are on the rise in Russia. The industry meets at EcoCityExpo in Moscow. The organic fair took place in Moscow for the first time in 2013. Since then, this eco-fair has established itself as a central location for information, exchange and initiation of business contacts in the ecological sector from Russia and the post-Soviet countries. In an interview with Authentic Eco, the head of the EcoCity Expo Gulnara Timerbulatova describes how she sees the development of the natural and organic cosmetics industry in the Russian Federation.
Interview with Gulnara Timerbulatova about the Current Developments in Natural and Organic Cosmetics in Russia
The Eco-City Expo took place for the first time in 2013. How do you assess the development of the natural and organic cosmetics industry in the Russian Federation from then until now from the perspective of the producers?
The natural cosmetics industry in Russia has grown significantly since then. At that time there were only a few manufacturers in Russia. If I remember correctly, there were not more than five companies. And they primarily cooked soap and made simple lotions, hydrolysates and peels. At the time, natural and organic cosmetics in Russia were essentially represented by foreign brands. But these were very, very rare and only known to some fans.
Since then, the natural and organic cosmetics industry has taken a giant step forward. It is developing rapidly. The pioneers of natural cosmetics in Russia, who started with soap and lotions, have now had their production lines certified. Their assortment has been expanded with umpteen lines and hundreds of products. New manufacturers are constantly appearing.
In my opinion there are currently several hundred natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers in Russia. The competition is fierce. And that's remarkable. It is no longer enough for the individual manufacturers to think of some products with five ingredients each. You have to constantly surprise your competitors and customers with new products, creative recipes and interesting product lines – the range of cosmetics is expanding very quickly.
In addition to creams and serums for different skin types and problems, the basic products also include a large number of hair care products, including styling and decorative cosmetics. It is not possible to grasp the diversity of the facial and hair care masks. Even liquid alginates have been developed that are ready to use in the glass. Unfortunately, only three companies in Russia currently have international natural cosmetics certifications, but I consider that to be an important step in the industry. I think the next step will be the mass certification of manufacturers. It is not far away anymore.
In addition to Russian natural cosmetics, a broad range of international, natural and organic cosmetic brands is also represented on the Russian market. Their share has grown strongly compared to 2013, despite the fact that foreign brands suffered a setback during this time. During the economic crisis in 2014, many foreign natural cosmetic brands withdrew from our market. The reason for this was the high prices that resulted from the decline of the ruble and the corresponding decline in purchasing power.
Now we can see again a rapid increase in imports in our market. More and more foreign companies are taking part in our trade fair that have not yet been represented on the market. TEcocityexpo Biomesse in Moskau – Interview Gulnara Timerbulatova Authentic Ecohis testifies to the interest of foreign manufacturers in Russia.
Has the market share of natural and organic cosmetics changed since then?
It has undoubtedly changed. At the beginning of the second decade, natural cosmetics were sold either directly to end users by manufacturers or importers. There were only a few online shops with different brands, especially in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Today there are numerous shops selling ecological products in many cities in Russia. Natural cosmetics are now represented in retail chains and on all internet sales platforms. There are some very large online stores that only sell natural and organic cosmetic products across the country and in the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Unfortunately, natural cosmetics cannot be found frequently in brick-and-mortar stores, but they are sold very, very much on the Internet. Today, NK (as we say in Russia) is a considerable competitor to conventional cosmetics. You can replace practically any skin care product with natural or organic cosmetics with no negative effects to their usage.
Are there differences in the perception of natural & organic cosmetics and certified natural & organic cosmetics?
There are, but not by all buyers. So far, unfortunately, only a small number of buyers know about the certifications. It is sufficient for the majority if the naturalness of the cosmetics is shown on the labels. Some buyers carefully study the list of ingredients and decide on the purchase on this basis. But the knowledge that only the existence of a certification can garantee the naturalness of the cosmetics 100% is growing steadily. Among other things, we will also give lectures at our eco trade fair to inform consumers about it.
In your opinion, which labels for natural and organic cosmetics are the best known in Russia?
In my opinion the most famous labels in Russia are EcoCert and ICEA. It is strange for me, but I have the impression that not even all manufacturers know the Cosmos label, non the less the consumers. 😃But I think that's because this label is relatively new on the market.
Do you think the new Russian eco-label "Leaf of Life" will influence the development of the certification of natural and organic cosmetics in Russia?
This symbol has long been known to many supporters of the ecological idea in Russia. But it stands specifically for sustainability and not naturalness. The “sheet of life” confirms the sustainability of a product, its life cycle. I don't think it will help buyers pay more attention to natural cosmetics, at least not in the foreseeable future. In all likelihood, foreign certifiers will influence development. I expect certifications to boom in the next few years, as I said above.
What are your wishes for the future?
But I would like every manufacturer, Russian or foreign, to be certified. Our consumers shouldn't have to torture themselves by reading the ingredients lists on the product labels. All greenwashing should disappear from our stores. I also wish that the manufacturers not only strive to increase the naturalness of their ingredients, but also the quality, condition and shelf life of the cosmetics. Technologically, they should break away from traditional formulas and create more and more innovative products. And I want consumers to have a wide range of natural and organic cosmetic products, so that they don't have to travel to the other end of the city to buy their favorite cream. Everyone should be able to buy them easily, in any shop near your home!
Gulnara Timerbulatova is the head of EcoCityExpo in Moscow. Thank you very much for this interview with Authentic Eco!
The Moscow EcoCityExpo organic trade fair in numbers
At the EcoCity Expo, exhibitors from the organic sector will introduce themselves to business customers as well as end consumers. The first day of the fair is primarily dedicated to B2B exchange. Visitors are representatives of the organic sector, resellers, wholesalers, representatives of the media and agencies.
Last year, 104 companies presented more than 3,000 types of products. The fair attracted 5,067 visitors from 51 regions of Russia and 7 other countries. 43.7% of the visitors were CEO's. In comparison to the previous EcoCity Expo, the number of visitors increased by 11%.
This year half of the exhibitors come from the natural cosmetics industry:
We at Authentic Eco are very much looking forward to being an exhibitor at the EcoCity Expo on April 24 and 25, 2020. More info here.
Visit us at booth A8! We look forward to meeting you!
The EcoCityExpo is taking place:
Event Hall Danilovsky in Moscow
Dubininskaya street, 71, b.5
Metro: Tulskaya, Paveletskaya
Here you can download the guide to the best known natural & organic cosmetics standards and sign up to stay up to date with my Authentic Eco News: ”Natural & Organic Cosmetics Label Guide”
Please find an overview of the requirements of the different levels of the individual labels here: ”Organic Cosmetics Labels – How To Easily Recognise Certified Natural Cosmetics”
Do you have any questions? Could you use some support in preparing for certification or setting up your certification process? Please feel free to book an appointment here and let's talk about it.
Fotocredits: pictures of the fair: Copyright Ecocityexpo
photos from Moscow and nature pics: Finn Hockauf, Instagram: @finn_hchf