After 2021, marked by the post-pandemic recovery, the French cosmetics industry maintained its momentum and confirmed the exceptional results recorded in the first months of 2022. With a growth of about 3 billion euros in 2022, exports of made-in-France cosmetics will exceed for the first time the EUR 19.2 billion mark [1] (against EUR 16.2 billion in 2021).

According to the French trade association representing cosmetic manufacturers (FEBEA), this +18.8% jump over 2021 will enable France to consolidate its position as the world leader in the sector. In total, almost 2/3 of the French production of perfumes and cosmetics is exported.

With a positive balance of EUR 15.6 billion (after deducting imports), the French cosmetics industry is the third largest contributor to foreign trade, after aeronautics (EUR 23 billion) and wines and spirits (EUR 16 billion).

The United States overtakes China

The US market was particularly dynamic in 2022, regaining first place on the podium of French cosmetics importing countries, which had been claimed by China last year. French exports to the United States increased by 28% in 2022, to reach EUR 2.3 billion, i.e. an increase of 48.2% over the 2019/2022 period!

With a 37% share, EU countries remain however the first export destination for made-in-France cosmetics (+24.2% compared to 2021). In this area, Germany remains the main market: it imports 1.9 billion euros worth of French cosmetics, a figure that is up by 21% compared to 2021.

Also worth noting is the very strong growth of the Middle East market (+33.8% compared to 2021). This performance is mainly due to the progression of exports to the United Arab Emirates (+41.8%) and Saudi Arabia (+20.4%).

Conversely, China, which totals EUR 1.954 billion in French cosmetics imports, is experiencing a slowdown (+3.1%), due in particular to the health restrictions that struck the country in 2022. With an 8.8% increase compared to the previous year, French cosmetics exports to Asia reached EUR 5.179 billion in 2022, which nevertheless represents an increase of 32% over the 2019/2022 period.

Perfumes show strong growth

According to the FEBEA, perfume, make-up and skincare categories are the main drivers of French exports, accounting for more than 85% of total export sales, i.e. more than EUR 16.5 billion in 2022. The perfumery category posted a staggering growth of 30.2% in 2022.

All the other categories also performed well: "Personal care and hygiene" products grew by 36.7%, even though they only represent 3.3% of French exports.

Emmanuel Guichard, General Delegate of the FEBEA, believes that these good results can be explained by the ability of manufacturers to reinvent themselves to meet the new expectations of consumers, particularly by offering more natural and eco-friendly products. "This ability to anticipate changes and to constantly innovate is the reason why the sector continues to improve its performance. This is something our federation is very proud of, as it should be for France where, paradoxically, our cosmetic companies, especially our SMEs and MSEs, have to face many difficulties, especially in the mass market channel," he concluded.