The increasing trend in organic and natural ingredients in cosmetics may make of Colombia a key player in this sector. In any case, this is what believes the country’s authorities, which are determined to sustain an industry currently in a structuring phase.

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Industrial development program

The cosmetic and hygiene products industry is indeed one of the twelve sectors targeted by the national development program "Transformación Productiva", launched last August by the President of the Colombian Republic, Juan Manuel Santos.

The development plan for this sector does not hesitate to look (very) far ahead! As of 2012, priority will be given to Colombia’s customary markets, namely its regular customers and its major trading partners. Then as of 2019, to the creation of more demanding products for new markets. Finally, in 2032, a special emphasis will be put on a continued international development and on the establishment of the recognition of Colombian natural cosmetics.

A growing sector

According to Colombia’s Chamber of Industry of cosmetics and toiletries (Cámara de la Industria Cosmética y de Aseo de Colombia), the country’s exports for this sector were multiplied by ten in ten years. With US$683 million in 2010 [1], Colombia is one of Latin America’s leading exporters.

The reasons for this success are many: a skilled workforce [2], a climate offering the possibility to produce throughout the year and provide the European markets outside their production season, a unique biodiversity since Columbia is the world’s second richest country in terms of variety of flowers species (51 2203) after Brazil. Finally, the country can take advantage of a huge market potential, with the second best growth in the area in 2010.

As a matter of fact, Columbia attracts cosmetic multinational companies that represent 75% of the total market, and generate alone 81% of industry sales. For example, Reckitt Benckiser has been established in Colombia for more than 60 years.

"Whether for the opening of factories, of distribution or R&D centres, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested by a number of international firms since almost five years," observes Proexport Colombia, the body in charge of supporting Colombian companies on foreign markets.

Unilever chose Colombia for the creation of three production plants (Bogota, Cali and Palmira Valle) and a regional distribution centre for an investment of $31.5 million. Procter & Gamble invested $25 million to open its new 150,000m² distribution centre in Rionegro. Avon invested between 50 and 60 million dollars for its 28,000m² "green" distribution centre. Are also present groups like Yanbal, Belcorp, Henkel, Beiersdorf.

Partner of the Cosmetic Valley

The Cámara de la Industria Cosmética y de Aseo de Colombia has signed in July an agreement with the Cosmetic Valley, the French competitiveness cluster comprising companies and universities. This agreement provides for the exchange of industry information, the mobility of researchers on an international scale, the setting up of business alliances and partnerships both for research and training.

Camilo Martinez, director of Proexport Colombia, believes that "the signing of this agreement is a significant step due to the fact that the French market is the first global player in the cosmetic industry, not only is the market an international benchmark, but it is also a springboard to the European market".

Moreover, height Colombian companies (Neyber, Waliwa, Kahai, Lail Cosmeticos, Laboratorios Francol, TropicOil, Cooparmayo and Biocate) participated to the latest edition of Beyond Beauty Paris where they showcased their natural ingredients: essential oils, aloe vera, avocado, passion fruit, basil or oregano.