John Chave - The disparities broadly reflect those of the economic situation in Europe. But the good news is that the market returned to a more robust growth in 2015, despite trying economic circumstances. The European cosmetics and toiletries market grew by +3.1% in 2015, compared to 2.1% in 2014.
It is also a demonstration that our industry is constantly adapting to meet the needs of a changing world. A combination of factors such as globalisation, digitalisation and the need for greater sustainability are reshaping consumer behaviour with regard to cosmetics and personal care products.
Premium Beauty News - One of the main topics at the Cosmetics Europe Week was the contribution of the cosmetics industry to the European economy and society.
John Chave - Actually, when you talk to regulators or legislators about cosmetics, the main topic is usually risk, risk and risk. Sometimes, we can also talk about risk assessment! But we never talk about benefits, which is very different from other industries! Thus, it was very important to stress the benefits of cosmetics in daily lives.
Briefly speaking, the cosmetics industry is a big contributor to the competitiveness of the European economy, and to research and innovation in Europe.
According to the report prepared by Risk & Policy Analysts Ltd. (RPA) on behalf of Cosmetics Europe, at least 2 million jobs are supported across the European value chain of the cosmetics industry. In 2015, the European cosmetics market was valued at 77 billion euros, making Europe the largest market for cosmetic products in the world. Over 17 billion euros of cosmetic products were exported from the European Union in 2015.
Furthermore, the European cosmetics industry is still a very much SME-based industry. There were 4,605 SMEs in the cosmetics industry in Europe in 2015, and the number is growing.
Cosmetic products are also an important part of people’s everyday life and bring important functional and emotional benefits.
Premium Beauty News - What are the key challenges the cosmetics industry is currently facing?
John Chave - There are many! First of all, I would mention the move to a more risk-based approach for the assessment of ingredients and products, rather than a hazard-based approach.
Another key challenge is product preservation. There are very few new preservatives allowed in the market. We need to defend existing ones and to adopt a more holistic approach of product preservation.
Eventually, I also have to mention the ban on animal testing, which is once again before the EU Court of Justice. The outcome might be a more restrictive interpretation of the ban, which would prohibit cosmetics makers to any substance tested on animal for the purpose of other legislations. This would not be consistent with the interpretation of the EU Commission.
Premium Beauty News - What about the British vote to leave the EU? What could be the impact on the cosmetics industry?
John Chave - Despite Brexit, the UK will remain a very large cosmetics market in Europe. There is also likely to be strong regulatory alignment between the UK and the EU, either because the UK stays in the European Economic Area (in which case the Cosmetics regulation will apply in the UK) or because there will be strong pressure from UK companies to ensure regulatory alignment. Nonetheless, as for all industries, Brexit is a source of damaging instability and uncertainty.