French exports of perfumes and cosmetics broke the 14.5 billion euro mark in 2018 according to figures published by the French trade association representing cosmetic manufacturers (FEBEA). A +6.3% increase compared to 13.6 billion euros in 2017.
While the French market itself is still struggling (-0.2% in value in 2018, according to Kantar Worldpanel), exports remain more than ever the main driver of French manufacturers in the sector. Logically, export sales in value exceeded this year again the turnover achieved by the manufacturers on the French market and the trade balance remains largely in surplus (11.2 billion euros, i.e., an increase of nearly 6.6% over 2017). The French cosmetics industry, thus secures its place on the podium of French export champions just behind aeronautics and wines and spirits.
Despite the slowing down of the global economy, which hampered the rise of exports (they had increased by +12% between 2016 and 2017), this new record confirms the attractiveness for French cosmetics.
“French cosmetics continue to play a leading role across the world. Admired for its excellence, it innovates constantly to meet the new quests of consumers for well-being: quality and safety of formulations, personalisation of products and environmental commitment,” enthused Patrick O’Quin, President of the FEBEA.
Asia, North America and the EU
Despite a slowdown, exports to Asia have remained strong, with a 16.6% increase in 2018, and increases of more than 20% in China (+ 22.7%) and Singapore (+24%). Today, more than 20% of French products are exported to Asia, representing more than 2.6 billion euros in value.
Meanwhile, exports to North America posted an increase of 6.8%, including a rise in sales of 5.7% in the U.S. This country is the second largest market for French exports. While sales in South America and Central America remained stable.
The leading destination for French exports, the European Union is also experiencing sustained growth with a 4.5% rise in sales of Made in France products. The highest increases occurring in Spain (+8.5%) and Italy (+7.2%), two markets that are continuing to close the gap. French manufacturers are watching closely the outcome of Brexit negotiations, as the United Kingdom is the second EU country (after Germany) for French exports of perfumes and cosmetics (more than 1 billion euros, up 3% in 2018).
Outside the EU, a strong growth of Russia (+17.8%) is observed.
The picture is more contrasted in the Africa zone, with a +16.8% rise in West Africa, but a drop of 6.8% in Central and Southern Africa. North Africa is also declining (-3.7%), mainly due to the ban on imports in Algeria.
Finally, a slight drop (-2.1%) in exports can be observed in Near and Middle East markets (Saudi Arabia, down 6.2%), closely linked to oil price variations.
Leading categories are maintaining momentum
Personal care products and perfumes still account for three-quarters of French cosmetic exports: 45% for personal care and 22% for perfumes.
Among other leading categories, make-up continues its momentum with exports up (by 4.8% for lip make-up and 3.7% for eye make-up), while haircare preparations and shampoos are not lagging behind with increases of respectively 7.5% and 5.8%.