Exports of French perfumes and cosmetics broke a new record in 2017, passing the 13 billion euro mark (13.6 billion euros according to figures published by FEBEA, up +12% compared to 2016). While the French domestic market is struggling with low sales, the dynamism of exports drives the growth of the French industry in a sector boasting a trade surplus of 10.5 billion euros (up +14% compared to 2016).

"The 2017 figures confirm France’s leading position in the international market. It is heartening to see that, thanks to their good reputation, French cosmetics that are still appealing to foreign consumers," said Patrick O’Quin, President of the FEBEA.

Asia and North America drive sales

In the mature European Union market, growth of French exports remained strong with a rise of 6.2%. The growth was driven by Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, four countries remaining in the top 5 of France exports.

Exports to Asia are skyrocketing, with a 25% year-on-year and growth. Sales to China and Singapore even grew by more than 30%. Exports towards the continent returned to growth after flat figures in 2015 and a timid recovery (+9%) in 2016. Now, 20% of French beauty and personal care exports are shipped to Asia, representing more than 2.6 billion euros.

North America is another growth booster. French exports to the region increased by +19% last year, including a +20% increase in sales to the United States.

Exports to the Middle East have increased by +13.1% o, driven by UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Eventually, North Africa was the only zone to record a decline in 2017, with exports down by -14%, despite a recovery in Egypt (+17%).

Attractiveness of French products

The good export figures of perfumes and cosmetics are exception in the context of a French trade balance that showed a global deficit of 62.3 billion euros in 2017.

"There is a real impact of the French know-how in cosmetics perfumes. These products are part of the French way of life. For many years, French companies have demonstrated their ability to address the demands of global markets, in all segments, not just for premium products. For a long time, French companies in the personal care and cosmetics sectors have been thinking globally and have adapted themselves in order to offer attractive products to the whole world," explains Patrick O’Quin.

Skin care and fragrances still account for three quarters of French cosmetics exports (44.3% for care and 31% for perfumes), but the make-up category has shown a real dynamism in 2017, with exports up +28% for lip products, +14.5% for eye products and +25% for makeup powders.

According to Patrick O’Quin, the growth French exports is at least equivalent to those of its main competitors, in particular the United States and Italy. However, according to the FEBEA President, there is a strong progression of Korea, which is now exporting beyond the Asian continent. Brazil is also emerging as a new major player, driven by the natural trend. But for the moment, France is brilliantly facing competition!