Natural cosmetics maker swamped with demand

Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:53am EDT
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By Eva Kuehnen

BAD BOLL/ECKWAELDEN, Germany (Reuters Life!) - Natural beauty care products maker Dr. Hauschka is turning down offers for new markets at a time when rivals are struggling to persuade consumers to pay up for cosmetics.

WALA, a medium-sized company based in the sleepy German village of Bad Boll near Stuttgart, rose to fame after Hollywood star Julia Roberts and pop stars like Madonna and Kylie Minogue discovered its Dr. Hauschka natural cosmetics.

Surfing on a green wave of growing demand for organic products from food to furniture, WALA's natural remedies and beauty products are now available in more than 30 countries and keep attracting interest from distributors across the world.

"We have many requests, but we turn down most of them," WALA Chief Executive Johannes Stellmann told Reuters in an interview.

Based on the teachings of Austrian social philosopher Rudolf Steiner, WALA does not believe in pushing aggressively into new markets, but rather waits for demand to find it.

Finding sufficient high-quality ingredients and skilled staff are the main constraints to growth for WALA, which competes with brands like Weleda, Lavera, Logocos, Primavera and Santaverde in the global market for natural cosmetics.

The market has been growing about 16 percent annually over the past two to three years and generated sales of $6.9 billion in 2007, research and consulting company Organic Monitor said, expecting to see similar growth rates this year.

WALA expects anything between a 10 percent rise or fall in 2009 growth, having more than doubled sales since 2000, reaching 103 million euros ($136 million) in 2008. "But we count on medium- to long-term growth," Stellmann said.   Continued...