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Natural, organic products poised to boost baby care

BY Antoinette Alexander

A lower birth rate, coupled with the tough economy, is expected to hamper sales of baby care products over the next few years, but according to data from Euromonitor International, some bright spots remain within the baby care sector.

Retail sales of baby care products are expected to grow by less than 1% annually between 2008 and 2013, to a total of $815 million, stated Euromonitor in its most recent report on U.S. baby care. Meanwhile, the birth rate is projected to grow slowly, with the number of births expected to rise by less than 1% annually between 2008 and 2013.

In previous years, many women were having babies at a later age, and they could afford to splurge on baby care products, including the higher-priced “natural” and “organic” baby care products. While the average age of women at first childbirth is expected to continue to rise, according to Euromonitor, their disposable incomes are unlikely to follow suit, thanks to the economic downturn.

“The major potential threat to growth during the forecast period is the economy, as consumers will be inclined to use fewer baby care products and to choose private-label and mass-market products over higher-priced brands,” the report stated.

However, there are some pockets within the vast baby care sector that are expected to fuel some growth: baby sun care, baby bath products and natural/organic baby care lines.

With skin cancer rates on the rise, baby sun care sales are expected to be the fastest-growing sub-sector, as parents grow increasingly concerned about protecting their children from the sun’s harmful rays. Sales are projected to grow by an annual average of more than 2% between 2008 and 2013, to reach $176 million at constant 2008 prices.

Baby products, which are a necessary part of the baby care routine, are expected to benefit from the convenient 2-in-1 bath/shampoo formulas, and are expected to grow by a compound annual growth rate of 1% in the forecast period.

Meanwhile, the higher-priced natural and organic baby care segment likely will see more competition from larger manufacturers, which are developing lower-priced products with natural or organic positioning.

“In the short term, parents worried about the harmful effects of chemicals, such as parabens and phthalates, are expected to [buy niche lines]. However, in the medium and long term, larger manufacturers are expected to introduce more competing natural and organic varieties,” Euromonitor stated.

This already is evident when walking the baby care aisle. For example, at one CVS/pharmacy store in Manhattan, the new Aveeno Baby Essential Moisture shampoo by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Cos. was on the shelf. Formulated with Aveeno Active Naturals, the shampoo uses natural oat, wheat and vitamin E to condition as it cleans. The moisturizing, tear-free shampoo hit retail shelves in May and is priced at $4.49.

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Washington, Mo., considers repealing recently passed PSE legislation

BY DSN STAFF

NEW YORK The objective here is closing down clandestine methamphetamine labs. The question is: Who is going to bear the cost? And the answer, ultimately, is the consumer.

It seems that one of the primary reasons behind legislation like this, which is also under consideration by the California state legislature as well as several local municipalities throughout Missouri, is cost shifting.

Indeed, one solution that would prevent the practice of “smurfing,” a practice whereby meth addicts exceed their legal purchase limits in pseudoephedrine products by buying across several nearby pharmacies, is electronic logbooking. By granting access to PSE logbooks to law enforcement in real time, law enforcement officers would not only be made aware of a “smurfer” as they were driving between pharmacies, but would also identify who that smurfer was and where they lived.

Setting up that comprehensive electronic logbooking system requires resources, however. State coffers have traditionally been tapped for that purpose, and at least in the case of California, the Consumer Healthcare Products Association has offered to help defray that cost. In the case of Missouri, more than $500,000 has already been earmarked for the implementation of an electronic logbooking system at the state level.

However,  a not-as-much-talked-about cost is also borne by law enforcement, as pointed out by Franklin County Sgt. Jason Grellner in Missouri. After all, it requires additional resources to actually apprehend and prosecute those criminals, he suggested. And a system that better defines who those criminals may be, by his estimation, could cost the state as much as $350,000 per criminal per year.

Therefore, Grellner argues, it’s a fiscal responsibility to take PSE off the OTC market altogether, and require a prescription for the popular decongestant.

That, in a nutshell, is cost-shifting. Because reverse switching PSE translates into less revenue for retailers (and consequently less taxable revenue, as well) for those consumers who choose to forego PSE-provided relief, and for those who don’t, it’s a greater healthcare cost because now consumers have to schedule an appointment with their primary care practitioner and pay the co-pay for that doctor’s visit on top of the cost of the PSE product.

Regardless of how the consumer ultimately pays for the elimination of meth labs — whether through increased taxes to cover escalating law enforcement budgets or through increased personal healthcare costs — there is another argument to be made here. Switching PSE to prescription-only status may result in fewer meth labs busted, but it’s not going to do anything about those meth addicts still on the street. Necessity is the mother of invention, and for addicts, that simply means sourcing their meth from somewhere else.

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