Last year’s full ban on animal tests performed for the development of cosmetic products in Europe had a ripple effect in the industry with many markets around the world looking to adopt something similar.
In Asia, many are now trying to take a proactive approach to this issue. Bans have been implemented in India, Korea has announced the creation of a centre of excellence for the development and validation of alternatives to animal testing, and even in China, where some of the biggest obstacles lie, the position is being reconsidered.
China’s maintained obligation to test cosmetics on animals is seen as both an unnecessary burden and a barrier to market access, and many cosmetics firms do not enter the market for this reason, as it is also viewed as a risk for the brands’ image. This hasn’t stopped all companies, who still see China as too lucrative a market to miss out on.
There are now a number of animal rights groups campaigning heavily in Asia, and working hard with the industry to find the best solution and change the cosmetic regulation. This has led to many companies such as The Body Shop, L’Occitane, Montagne Jeunesse and Marks and Spencer joining forces with the animal rights activists to try to change the Chinese regulations.
This was never going to be a fast process, considering how long it took the European ban to come into play, but the Chinese government, which until recently was hardly concerned with the issue, has taken its first steps by recognising some alternative methods, and authorities have announced that the reform of the regulation governing cosmetic products would address this issue.
We are now in the situation where authorities have invited input from industry and other interested parties in a review of cosmetics regulation, which has resulted in new proposals, and while there is no commitment in place, many of the campaigning groups view it as an opportunity and a step in the right direction.
Elsewhere in Asia, another positive move towards the ban comes in the form of the big players reiterating their commitment to the cause, as seen at Shiseido and Amore Pacific. The former was the first among the leading Asian cosmetic companies to announce it will eliminate animal tests in line with the European ban, while the Korean company went on to make a similar announcement shortly after.
This change of attitude on the part of Asian companies and authorities is more than the expression of a sudden and new attention to animal welfare. And it remains to be seen what position we will find ourselves in at the end of 2014…
Andrew McDougall, Deputy Editor at CosmeticsDesign-Asia.com