Certified, verified, accredited, and approved

April 19, 2018By Behind the Shelf Blog, Brand Marketing

by Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager

As the mom of a young boy with celiac disease, one certification matters to me above all others – Certified Gluten Free. When I see the symbol, I know that product has been verified to be under 10 ppm gluten by the Gluten Intolerance Group and is therefore safe for my little guy.

Little did I know until I went to Natural Products Expo West about all the other gluten free certifying bodies (ICS Gluten-Free Certified, NSF Certified Gluten Free, etc.), let alone the number of certifications and verifications in general!

Here are my observations from Natural Products Expo West last year as it relates to certifications.

  1. Practically every brand is certified or verified by someone. EWG Verified, Rainforest Alliance Certified, Zero Waste Certified, Fair Trade Certified, Demeter Certified Biodynamic, Autism Approved, etc. A brand without a verification symbol looks markedly naked.
  2. Multiple groups certify or verify the same things. For example Non-GMO Project verifies products as non-GMO, and Green Leaf certifies products as non-GMO. There is USDA Organic and Quality Assurance International Certified Organic.
  3. Brands often carry multiple certifications. I saw one brand at the show bearing the following labels: Non-GMO Project Verified, Zero Waste Certified, Certified Vegan, USDA Organic, Certified Kosher, and SQF Certified.

My questions are as follows: Is the industry over-saturated with certifying bodies? Which organizations do consumers trust the most? Do the symbols lose their credibility with so many competing organizations? How are consumers educated on what these symbols stand for, or is it just enough that someone certified it for…something?

The trend only seems to be accelerating. If you are a retailer, are you familiar with all of these certifications? Your shoppers may ask you about them. If you are a brand, how do you choose which certifications to achieve? Do you think more is better? Reach out on LinkedIn to let me know what you think!