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Everyday Natural and Organic Products in Continued High Demand Consumers intent on personal responsibility to limit environmental woes and boost health seek out companies such as Lulu's Holistics for natural and organic products for routine use

By Shifa Nicolson

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Shifa Nicolson

In an average year, health is often at the forefront of the mind for most people, but the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed the issues of health and healthcare to the forefront of many conversations, both public and private. Throughout the pandemic, the impact of individual actions, such as social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing to mitigate the spread of the virus, are examples of the power and responsibility of the individual to play a role in their personal health and safety and that of the community.

The extension of that idea is reflected in how consumers have used their purchasing power to prioritize health, wellness, and the environment. Nielsen found that 73 per cent of consumers would likely make purchases based on whether there would be a reduced impact on the environment, and 41 per cent are willing to pay more to do so by buying all-natural and organic goods. In Mexico, for example, organic sales grew 53 per cent, while natural product sales grew 17 per cent, according to a report. Despite the goods' higher price tags, shoppers preferred products that positioned wellness at the forefront.

The natural and organic industry in the US has steadily increased in sales since 2015, according to a 2020 study by Whipstitch Capital and New Hope Network. The industry's value in 2015 was over $175 billion, climbing to over $225 billion in 2019. As for natural skin care products, in 2019 the global market was worth $10.84 billion. While overall sales dropped due to pandemic-related shutdowns and supply-chain issues, bringing the market value to $10.53 billion, Grand View Research anticipates a growth rate of 5 per cent from 2020-2027.

For Lulu's Holistics, COVID-19 did not adversely impact sales; it experienced growth as demand increased. The natural skincare brand has seen sustained benefits from the rising demand for such products in recent years. With three brick-and-mortar stores in Florida and New York and a successful online site and popular Instagram presence, the small business claims to have tripled its revenue from the previous year to $5 million in 2020. Lulu's Holistics sells handmade products to treat a range of issues, including acne, ingrown hairs, stretch marks, and discoloration all over the body. Highlighting plant-derived ingredients such as turmeric, shea, and essential oils, co-founder Deannee Santiago says the use of all-natural products is a big factor in the company's success.

"Lulu's is unique in its ability to stay true to our ingredients and results," says Santiago, who makes the products. "We are transparent. We bond with our customers by showing them real people with real results and how Lulu's products are made."

Lulu's Holistics sells skincare free of chemicals, preservatives, and parabens, terms circulated a lot as customers search for products good for them and the Earth. Consumers are looking beyond just the buzzwords of "natural" or "organic" and to specific information on labels, checking for other ingredients and whether a product is safe and sustainable. Clean products grow in popularity as the environment and climate change become more pressing issues. Pew Research Center found that 64% of Americans in 2020 believe environmental protection should be a top priority for Congress and the president.

Skincare made of plant-based ingredients is biodegradable, which is an appealing aspect for customers wanting eco-friendly products. And those interested in a greener lifestyle may change to a household cleaner containing more natural and less toxic ingredients. As the EPA found, surface and groundwater contamination can be caused by such cleaning products. That's why customers have turned to natural cleaners, like the ones created by Pur Home. The company's nontoxic product ingredients include those derived from plants. It even goes the extra step to use recyclable packaging and even biodegradable and compostable laundry packaging.

Pesticides are also a source of environmental contamination, reinforcing the desire to lean toward organic foods. Organic produce sales rose over $1 billion since 2019, to $8.5 billion in 2020, according to the 2020 Organic Produce Performance Report. In the fourth quarter alone, sales of organic fruit, vegetables, and herbs and spices grew 15%, compared to a 10% growth for non-organic produce. The Organic Produce Network cites the pandemic as spurring on the altered buying habits. "In the face of restaurant restrictions and closures and elevated sales across the entire supermarket as consumers turned to at-home eating, organic fresh produce sales surged last year, with consumers looking for healthy, safe, and wholesome meal options for their families," said Matt Seeley, CEO of the Organic Produce Network, in their announcement of the study.

The inclination toward natural products extends beyond food and drink, supplements, cleaners, skincare, makeup, and other merchandise. Natural ingredients even contribute to many medicines, including antibacterial drugs and cancer treatments. According to the Journal of Natural Products, 85 of 175 small molecule cancer treatments (many small-molecule drugs are targeted therapies) approved by the Food and Drug Administration from the 1940s to 2014 were natural products or derived from them. For example, chemotherapy drug Paclitaxel is derived from the bark of a Pacific yew tree. The drug is used in the treatment of breast and ovarian cancers, among others.

It's understandable why customers gravitate toward natural or organic products, as their use aligns with social goals such as improving the environment and personal steps to take a larger role in health and wellness. And the use of natural ingredients, from medicines to skincare, are not slowing down and continue to carve a path in the global economy.

A hardcore vegan since 6 years now, Shifa Nicolson left her luring corporate life and pursuing the “American dream” to learn more and advocate about natural and organic ’sustainable’ way of life. She researches well into the various trends and innovations in the market and aims to popularise chemical-free consumption in the new decade.

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