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French cosmetics: record exports

According to data released by the Fédération des entreprises de la beauté (Febea), French cosmetics exports are on the up, despite less buoyant markets. For the first time, they exceeded the €20 billion mark.

In 2023, French cosmetics exports rose by +10.8% year-on-year to 21.3 billion euros. 

Make-up and facial care products rank first with an increase of +9.9 % (€11 bn) followed by fragrances, up +10.5 % (€7.1 bn). Perfume exports have doubled since 2019. Hair care products recorded the strongest growth (+15.8 %).

Europe and the United States, leading customers for French cosmetics

The leading export market for French cosmetics, the European Union accounts for 40.2 % (€8.6 Bn) of total exports, a share up +20.8% compared to 2022. Germany, Spain and Italy remain the top three importers of French cosmetics. In Europe, make-up and facial care recorded the strongest growth with +23.6 % (€3.7 bn), followed by perfumes, which rose by 18.3 % (€2.9 bn).

The United States remains the world's leading buyer of French cosmetics. In particular, one in five perfume products is exported there. However, growth in this market has slowed considerably, to 2.8 % in 2023, compared with 26.7% the previous year.

Growth in the US market was driven by fragrances, with +1.9 % growth (€1.2 bn), followed by make-up and facial care, with +5.3 % growth (€1.1 bn).

China and the Middle East: a slowdown

In 2023, the Chinese market will grow by +1.7% to reach €1.99 billion in cosmetics exports, down on 2022 (+5% that year). Growth in China remains primarily driven by the "Make-up and facial care" category, up 2.9 % (€1.7 bn). One in four French lipsticks is now exported to China. Perfumes, for their part, show growth of +2.5% in 2023. By contrast, the "Body hygiene and care" category, which rounds out the top 3 exported products, is losing 29.6 % in China.

In the Middle East, exports of French cosmetics fell by -2.9 %, due in particular to a sharp drop in exports to Saudi Arabia (-19 %), partly offset by growth in the United Arab Emirates (+6 %).

"Despite major disparities between countries, French cosmetics continue to enjoy remarkable international growthsays Emmanuel Guichard, General Delegate of Febea. Passing the symbolic milestone of 20 billion euros shows that the sector continues to win over consumers the world over, thanks to its innovation and ability to respond to their changing expectations. The industry, more than 80 % of which is made up of VSEs and SMEs, makes a major contribution to improving France's trade balance, and continues to increase the attractiveness of French cosmetics worldwide."

In all, over 60 % of French cosmetics production is exported. The sector is now the second-largest contributor to the positive balance of trade, behind the aeronautics sector and ahead of wines & spirits.

Febea notes that "made in France" remains an essential asset for the cosmetics sector.

These annual estimates are based on official customs figures for January to November 2023 inclusive. December results have been estimated on the basis of the average for the 11 months of 2023.

Photo: © Xaara Novack / Pixabay

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