Weleda

1. I like Weleda. As a company (weird theosophical stuff aside), some products in particular.

2. They’ve not tested their products on animals, um, ever.

3. But: they’re not on any of the formal “no testing” sites. Possibly due to honesty about testing and about regulatory procedures; and as the company’s been around—unlike many others—at the peak historical period for animal testing, the 1940s-60s. Thus, tainted like all other older companies. Seems unfair, and unfair rules by the granters of fluffy bunny marks and suchlike, prejudice in favour of younger newer companies over older ones, of ignorance (genuine or feigned) over knowledge and honesty, and generally a high risk of pointing customers towards greenwashers and bandwagon-jumpers.

4. On the other hand, I’m querying something else here. The matter of selling in China. Covered previously over the last six months or so on this here blog. Note, as ever, that this IS NOT a black-and-white question:

  • selling a product on the Chinese market does not necessarily mean that it will, necessarily, be tested on animals before being approved for sale;
  • what testing is required (if and when it is) depends on the kind of product;
  • some ingredients and products are exempt, for the same reasons as has been the case in the EU (even before the current legislation, which goes fully operational—in theory—next year) for some time too: traditional use over a long time;
  • L’Oréal, for all their L’Uciferianism, and Aveda, and others, have been investing in non-animal testing techniques and labs in China;

BUT:

  • the fact of being prepared to hand your products over for any and all testing testing required, relinquishing control over them, handing them over into someone else’s hands completely when there is even the remotest possibility that they’ll be tested on animals
  • is irresponsible
  • and immoral.

See also:

Here’s my last bit of correspondence from earlier this year (2012-03-14)

Dear Ginger,

Thank you for your inquiry.  Please see attached Company Statement on Animal Testing and Weleda Organic and Natural Cosmetics for more information.  As Weleda North America distributes to USA, Canada and Mexico only, we have no knowledge of the defined laws for distribution to China.  Please visit http://www.weleda.com and contact Weleda Headquarters or the distribution partner for Weleda in China for more information.

Best Regards,
DM

DM
Manager of Customer Service and Weleda Boutique & Spa
Weleda North America, 1 Closter Rd, Palisades, NY 10964
Direct: +1-845-510-5568 | Direct: +1-800-241-1030 x5568| Fax: +1-800-280-4899
usa.weleda.com | weleda.ca

Weleda – in harmony with nature and the human being, since 1921

Which fits with what I knew of the company already (having been using their stuff, or having it used on me, for my entire life). Adding to the ethical list: sustainably-produced ingredients, fair trade, solid ethics. See their website statement on animal testing on the USA site:

We do not test our ingredients or skincare products on animals. It is unnecessary for us to do so, as the plant materials that makeup our pure formulations have been used internally and externally for countless centuries. Long before animal-testing was introduced, all “testing” was done on humans, establishing a system of trial and error. Thus, many materials were established as safe and effective. As a result, Weleda’s use of raw materials has a long history of safe usage. We ensure that our biodynamically grown ingredients and those provided by our partners have not been tested on animals.

And from the UK site:

We feel a certain level of responsibility to our crops the same way we feel a responsibility to you.

And because we believe unwaveringly in cultivating beauty for all creatures, we don’t test our skin care products or their ingredients on animals and neither do our suppliers. Period. No asterisk, no small print.

For a list of products suitable for vegans, vegetarians, those on a gluten-free diet and diabetics – click here >

OK. All fine and clear. Though in British English, we tend to use “full stop” not “period.” Minor translation / usage quibble; otherwise all is pretty clear, right? But then here’s something I found recently, that doesn’t make much sense to me:

Problems: (1) no email address or other contact information, (2) Google search for name + address only produces information c/o Weleda here, (3) Google search for the business name produces a different address (see next item for an official government listing)

For some entries (ex. Australia), there’s a full website, which may link to stores selling Weleda products (real-life shops, online etailers, and indeed a Weleda online store. For others, there’s just some contact information for a distributor. And some points between the two. In this case, we’re just looking at a distributor.

Ministry of Commerce, China: China Commodity Net – database on Chinese enterprises & business partners. Note discrepancy in addresses. Sure, they might have moved; and one might be the warehouse address, the other the office / public face.

Not auspicious. I’ve emailed anyway.

No sign of Weleda?

Now, it looks to me like Weleda does not in fact have a China office (like they do for other countries), but deal with a distributor. An odd sort of distribuor at that, and with information that doesn’t match up.

Hunch: de jure there’s a move towards being there, but de facto Weleda are not yet on the Chinese market. Possibly available c/o their Hong Kong distributor. Who, please note, ARE NOT CHINA for legislative and product-control purposes such as what we’re dealing with here. So possibly the same situation as The Body Shop: they don’t have a China distributor (precisely for that possible-animal-testing reason), but a long-standing relationship c/o TBS HK.

Weleda’s Hong Kong distributor:

Mekim Limited
905 Harbour Centre, Tower 2
8 Hok Cheung Street, Hunghom, Kowloon
Hong Kong SAR

Email: enquiry@mekim.com
Fax: +852 2355 6103
Tel: +852 2774 8300
Web: www.mekim.com

I’ve contacted them:

Dear Sirs,

I have a couple of questions for you about Weleda, whom you distribute.

(1) Do you also act on Weleda’s behalf for the mainland Chinse market, or just for Hong Kong? The reason I ask is that the distributor listed for China on the Weleda main site (http://www.weleda.com) provides no further contact information for what is supposed to be their official China partner/distributor.

(2) If Mekim also acts as distributor for Weleda for the Chinese market too, what is your position on animal testing for markets requiring it (e.g., China)? Are Weleda products completely cruelty-free? That is: not only no animal testing by the manufacturer or by third parties on their behalf (which I know is the case for Weleda) during the formulation and manufacturing stages, but also no testing on finished products in all stages between the end of production and an actual sale?

Many thanks in advance,

Yours faithfully,

Ginger O’Rama
(consumer)

and have also contacted Weleda Switzerland to ask them for an email address for that China office and to ask this:

Madame, Monsieur,

Je vous saurais bon gré de bien vouloir répondre à quelques questions à propos des essais sur les animaux.

(1) Je sais que vos produits n’en font pas l’objet, mais j’ai aussi remarqué que vos produits ne portent aucun sigle associé (CCIC “Leaping Bunny”, etc.). Y aurait-il une raison pour cela?

(2) Selon http://www.weleda.com Weleda a un distributeur en Chine. La vente de produits sur le marché chinois pourrant nécessiter des essais sur animaux–et ce processus étant en dehors du contrôle du fabriquant–quels implications voyez-vous pour votre position éthique? et surtout en ce qui concerne les essais sur les animaux?

Je suis fort désolée de devoir vous demander ces questions: j’utilise des produits Weleda depuis presque quatre décennies, mais ces questions d’éthique me préoccupent, et ce n’est pas facile d’y trouver des réponses en ligne. J’avais déjà écrit à Weleda-Amérique du Nord sans recevoir de réponse concrète, d’où ce message à Weleda-Suisse…

Avec mes remerciements d’avance et mes salutations distinguées,

Ginger O’Rama

Will see what happens next…

UPDATE: NEWS FRESH IN FROM HONG KONG

Dear Ginger O’Rama,

First of all, thank you for your enquiry and interest in Weleda products.
Sorry to inform you that Mekim is not distributor in Mainland China.  You can find the contact of Mainland China through Weleda web site (http://www.weleda.com).  Same as us, they provide office address.
As I know Weleda products in Mainland China are completely cruelty-free, that why they did not launch products which need animal test. But I am not the right person to explain on behalf of Mainland China, you can feel free to contact them.
In addition, I am sure all Weleda products are completely no animal test from production to finished goods.

Best regards,

FL
Product Marketing Manager – Division 11
Mekim  Limited

[thanks duly sent]

6 comments

    • gingerama

      updated with response from Weleda Hong Kong: I may end up having to send a cheery Vancouver postcard to Weleda China, at the address on weleda.com, if we still find no email address for them…

  1. Kay

    This is just so thorough, I am extremely impressed. Thanks for all your work! (Even if the whole situation still seems iffy!)

  2. Nancy

    Weleda had a small line of products of superior quality. It appears they now mass market an ever-increasing number of products which (compared to a couple decades ago) are of mediocre quality. I would not be surprised to see them sell out at an even larger scale. Pretty impressive marketing if the objective was, indeed, to sell massive quantities of mediocre products worldwide. I am told that the products of superior quality are still available. I am uncertain as to whom they are accessible, but there is always hope!

  3. gina

    But the fact remains, they aren’t listed on any non-animal testing list. If they aren’t specific to inquiries regarding this issue then they appear to be deceptive. There are just too many quality cosmetics to be had that are completely honest, without the need to contact every entity the company comes in contact with.

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