GLOHS Organic Skincare & Health Products

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Dilemma of Today’s Consumers

These days, when we go shopping, we are amassed with abundant choices. This is broadly a good thing. However, the difficulty I find is that when I am shopping around for an item, I am not necessarily comparing like and like.

Let me explain. In Hong Kong, most items are imported. When you buy, say a bottle of shampoo, you may be comparing a brand from the US, Australia, Japan etc. The labels are not standard. Disclosure requirements are not the same. Even definitions of the same term can mean very different things in each country.

To add on to this, the definitions of natural and organic are quite different in each country. A natural product means it is something found in nature, and is not done or made by a human. Organic (farming) means that plants / animals are grown / bred without the use of pesticides, industry solvents, food additives, hormones etc. However, natural does not mean organic and organic does not mean natural.

On top of this, each country’s definition of these terms is also different. In the US, there are 4 levels of organic standards that can be applied. In countries like Australia and Japan, products need to display precisely what is organic and %. In Scandinavian countries, organic products will also need to be environmentally conscious (especially for farmed produce) in order to be classified as organic.

So how do we choose?

For me, I spend a lot of time reading labels at supermarkets or when shopping online. It is an investment of time that is worthwhile for sure. I start by eliminating products with ingredients that are really bad for me (another topic for another time). Then, if given a choice, I will opt for products made in a country with higher (organic) standards. After spending hours reading up on organic standards, I find Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Scandinavian countries to have the highest organic standards in the world, followed by the EU and Canada. The US is on the other end of the spectrum, together with Hong Kong and China.

In Australia for example, if a product contains 99% organic ingredients, it will say so. Same in Japan. In Japan, organic certification is obtained at the facility level, not at product level, so manufacturers who abide by organic standards will uphold the highest standards with their products. In New Zealand, non-organic farmers run their farms broadly in line with organic standards although not all of them apply for the certification as they are expensive for smaller growers. As a country, they care a lot about the food and products, and will not cut corners and mess up their customer’s health. 

On the other hand, in the US, generally if a product contains 70% organic ingredients, it can be labelled as organic. The actual % does not need to be disclosed. The remaining 30% can be all chemicals, but the product can still uphold the “organic” wrapping.

We live in a world now where we need to make conscious choices. These choices will over time, affect us in many ways, no matter how great or small.

Is this of interest to you? If there are topics that you would like to read about, drop us a line and let us know! We would love to hear your feedback and comments!


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