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What is the demand for natural ingredients for cosmetics in the European Market?

Takes about 35 minutes to read

The European cosmetics market presents good opportunities for exporters of natural ingredients from developing countries. Demand for natural ingredients from the European cosmetics sector is increasing. The main drivers of this demand are the growing consumer awareness for natural cosmetics and the desire of cosmetics companies to replace synthetic ingredients with natural variants.


1 . Sector description

Natural ingredients for cosmetics are defined as any raw materials derived from plants or animals used in the production of cosmetics and personal care products. This study focuses on natural ingredients for cosmetics that are produced in developing countries. Natural ingredients for cosmetics can be categorised as follows:

  • Vegetable or animal derived oils, fats and waxes;
  • Essential oils and oleoresins;
  • Vegetable saps and extracts;
  • Raw plant materials;
  • Colouring matter of vegetable or animal origin.

2 . What makes Europe an interesting market for natural ingredients for cosmetics?

Europe has the largest cosmetics market in the world, presenting good opportunities for ingredient exporters in developing countries. Demand for natural ingredients used in cosmetics and toiletries is growing, a trend expected to continue into the future.

Natural ingredients are increasingly used in cosmetic products. Consumer concerns about synthetic chemicals in cosmetics and toiletries are helping to support this demand. Research shows that consumers are avoiding chemicals such as parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulphate, as they are concerned about associated health risks. Consumers view natural ingredients as safer for human health and the environment. A growing number of cosmetics companies are therefore replacing synthetic chemicals with natural ingredients.

Table 1: European market for natural cosmetics growth 2013–2018

                                                                                                                              Revenue
                                                                                                    Revenues           Growth
Year                                                                                             (€ billion)             (%)

2013 ..................................................................................................... 2.60                 -

2014 ..................................................................................................... 2.77              6.4

2015 ..................................................................................................... 2.96              6.9

2016 ..................................................................................................... 3.15              6.9

2017 ..................................................................................................... 3.40              7.3

2018 ..................................................................................................... 3.64              7.8

Note: All figures are rounded

Source: Ecovia Intelligence

Natural cosmetics are defined as products made from natural ingredients, containing minimal levels of synthetic substances, such as petrochemicals and parabens. According to this definition, the European natural cosmetics market was valued at €3.6 billion in 2018.

Table 1 show historic growth rates for the European market for natural cosmetics. Ecovia Intelligence projects the market to grow at a healthy rate from 2019 to 2023. Consumer demand for cosmetics and toiletries that avoid contentious chemicals is expected to help fuel market growth. Robust demand for natural ingredients provides opportunities for potential suppliers in developing countries.

Natural ingredients are used in a wide range of cosmetic products, not only in the natural cosmetics that meet the definition of those in Table 1.

Tips:

  • Look into the criteria to get ingredients certified as natural or organic. The most popular standards in Europe are COSMOS and NATRUE.
  • Locate a certification body in your country on the lists of COSMOS and NATRUE certification bodies. Buyers see these European standards also as a sign of quality. Once certified, your ingredients might fetch premium prices in the market. Make sure you use appropriate logos and labels on your marketing materials.

Natural ingredients are increasingly used in conventional cosmetics and personal care products. Companies are replacing synthetic chemicals with natural ingredients, partly because of consumer demand and partly because of a move towards sustainable raw materials. This trend is described in the CBI trends report on natural ingredients for cosmetics.

According to Cosmetics Europe, the European cosmetics market was valued at €78.6 billion in 2018, the largest in the world, followed by the US, China and Japan. Chart 1 shows the importance of the European market in the world.

Thanks to its large consumer population, Europe’s cosmetics market is expected to continue to grow in the future and maintain its leading position in the coming years. However, cosmetics market in Asia and Latin America are also showing significant market growth. Increasing disposable income in developing countries, such as India, China, Brazil and countries in Southeast Asia has been sustaining growth in these markets.

Tips:

  • Check Cosmetics Europe and the CBI trends report to stay up to date on European cosmetics trends.
  • Make sure to do market research on what types of products are popular in the European market. For example, skincare is traditionally the biggest product category, but haircare and colour cosmetics are also important. Different ingredients are required for different product categories.
  • Research what trends and market developments are currently shaping the cosmetics market in Europe. For example, the ageing European population will drive antiageing skincare segment sales in the future. If your ingredients have anti-ageing properties, make sure to communicate that to your buyers. For more information on this topic, review the CBI study Exporting antiageing extracts to Europe.
  • Focus on building long-term relationships with buyers in Europe. Although growth may be slow in the cosmetics market overall, Europe is expected to have the largest cosmetics markets in the world. Make sure to communicate your intention to buyers.
  • Learn more about the regulations that your products need to comply with when supplying to the European market. For more information, see the CBI requirements study on natural ingredients for cosmetics.

3 . Which European markets offers most opportunities for natural ingredients for cosmetics?

Germany and France are considered the best prospective European markets for exporters of natural ingredients. This is because these two countries have the largest consumer markets for cosmetics in Europe and they are also major production centres. Many conventional and natural cosmetics companies are based in Germany and France. After these two countries, the UK and Italy are the most attractive country markets.

The European cosmetics market is quite diverse. Demand for natural ingredients comes from large conventional cosmetics companies, contract manufacturers, dedicated natural cosmetics companies, as well as formulators and product developers.

Chart 2 shows the largest cosmetics markets in Europe. Germany leads, with a market size of €13.8 billion. France has the second largest market, valued at €11.4 billion.

The UK and Italy have the third and fourth largest cosmetics markets, worth €10.9 billion and €10.1 billion respectively. Despite being the third largest market, most cosmetic products sold in the UK are produced in mainland Europe, so raw materials, including natural ingredients, are not used as much in the UK.

Tips:

  • For more information on trends in the cosmetics industry in Europe, look into the reports published by Cosmetics Europe.
  • Make sure to research cosmetics markets of individual European countries. For more information, visit the website of cosmetics associations, such as IKW, FEBEA, CTPA, Cosmetica Italia and STANPA.
  • Read the European Commission’s economic forecasts to stay up to date on country economic forecasts.

The European cosmetics market offers good opportunities for natural ingredient exporters in developing countries. There is strong demand in the skincare and haircare product categories, as well as in toiletries.

Skincare is the most important product category, in which a wide range of products use natural ingredients. Commonly used ingredients include vegetable oils with functional or active properties for body and face products. Essential oils are mainly used as fragrances. Various plant-based extracts are also used for their active properties.

The haircare product category is the third largest product category in terms of value and second most important in natural ingredients. Vegetable oils and botanicals in this category offer opportunities because of their active properties. Argan oil, coconut oil and aloe vera are used in haircare products because of their nourishing and emulsifying properties.

Other product categories, such as colour cosmetics, toiletries and perfumes make less use of natural ingredients in comparison. Nonetheless, a growing number of products in these categories are using natural ingredients. For instance, natural ingredients, such as vegetable oils, colourants, essential oils and botanicals are used in soaps, colour cosmetics and deodorants.

Natural ingredient exporters should target producers of skincare products, toiletries and haircare products. These three categories represent 70 percent of total cosmetics sales in Europe.

Germany

Germany is also the European leader in natural cosmetics. Its €1.3 billion market gives Germany a 35% share of Europe’s total. Natural products comprise almost 10% of total cosmetics sales in Germany. Natural and organic cosmetics have been established in the German market for decades now.

Distribution is a major factor behind the high market share of natural cosmetics in Germany, where these products are sold in a wide range of retail and non-retail outlets. Unlike other countries, a large share of natural cosmetics are sold in drugstores and pharmacies. Organic food shops, health food retailers, department stores and beauty retailers are also important channels.

Germany is home to some of the leading natural and organic cosmetics brands in Europe. They include Lavera, Logona, Dr. Hauschka and Primavera Life. Some of these companies source natural ingredients directly from developing countries. For instance, Primavera Life is a producer of natural cosmetics and essential oils. The company uses a wide range of essential oils in its products, including lemongrass from Bhutan and Nepal, and cajeput from Cambodia.

France

France has the second largest natural cosmetics market in Europe, valued at €720 million. The French market is characterised by a large number of French brands — more than 100 — and an emphasis on sourcing raw materials locally. For example, the natural and organic cosmetics company Lea Nature sources 70–100% of its ingredients within France.

Melvita, part of the L’OCCITANE Group, has 20 sourcing projects through which the brand works directly with growers in various countries. These include argan oil from North Africa, shea butter from West Africa and damask rose from the Middle East.

Large multinationals have entered the French natural cosmetics market. For instance, L’Oréal has launched several new natural products in the last five years. Garnier Organic was launched in February 2019 and the Botanēa hair colour line was introduced in 2018. Raw materials for the Botanēa line are sustainably sourced from India.

Italy

The Italian market is in third place in Europe. Valued at €425 million, it is also characterised by a large number of domestic brands, many of which are small companies that focus on the Italian market.

Herbalist shops and organic food shops are important sales channels for natural cosmetics in Italy. Few natural cosmetics brands have made inroads in supermarkets, hypermarkets and mass market retailers. The professional channel, including hair salons and spas, is important for Italian brands such as Oway.

The UK

The UK natural cosmetics market is valued at €360 million. Despite being one of the largest natural cosmetics markets in Europe, the uncertainty caused by Brexit casts questions about future developments. See more details about Brexit effects in the CBI report on trends in natural ingredients for cosmetics.

Organic food shops and pharmacies are important sales channels for natural cosmetics in the UK, but supermarkets and mass market retailers are not very important.

Many international brands of natural cosmetics are present in the UK market. Australian, New Zealand and American brands have good market positions. The leading UK brand, Neal’s Yard Remedies has set up supply chains for many of its essential oils and raw materials. Examples include chiuri butter from Nepal, neroli essential oil from Egypt and Morocco, frankincense from Oman, geranium oil from Democratic Republic of Congo and tea tree oil from Kenya.

Switzerland

Switzerland has an important market for natural cosmetics. Supermarkets are important sales channels in Switzerland, with leading brands also successful in a number of retail outlets.

Weleda is the leading Swiss natural cosmetics company and the most established in the world. Involved with natural products since 1921, it works closely with producers of raw materials in about 50 projects across the world. Weleda puts a lot of emphasis on traceability of its ingredients and production methods. The company wants to increase the proportion of its raw materials from biodynamic agriculture by 30 percent by 2022.

Many of Weleda's raw materials come from developing countries, including jojoba oil from Egypt, and palm kernel oil and its derivates, such as emulsifiers, from Indonesia and Malaysia. Weleda sources sustainable palm oil certified by RSPO and Forum for Sustainable Palm Oil.

Other important natural cosmetics markets in Europe include Greece, Austria and Spain. Austria has a high market share of natural cosmetics in its overall cosmetics market. The Austrian market reflects the German market in consumer behaviour, channels and market players.

Despite having a rather small consumer market, the Netherlands is a major entry point for many raw materials coming into Europe — particularly significant for vegetable oils — which are usually re-exported to other European countries.

Tips:

  • Focus on Western Europe when targeting natural and organic cosmetics companies. The markets in Central and Eastern Europe are relatively small, but Poland has the most prospective market among them.
  • Approach importers of raw materials if you want to supply to natural and organic cosmetics companies. Most importers are small and medium-sized firms that buy ingredients from specialised ingredient firms. Examples of such companies include Henry Lamote, IMCD and Surfachem.
  • Stay up to date on natural and organic cosmetics markets using Ecovia Intelligence reports and other sources, including NATRUE and organic-market.info.
  • For more information, see also the sites of the CTPA and the Confederation of British Industry.

4 . Which products from developing countries have most potential in the European Market?

Demand for natural ingredients from the cosmetics sector in Europe is growing. A wide range of natural ingredients are used in cosmetic applications, the top six of which in terms of opportunities are shea butter, coconut oil, babassu oil, frankincense essential oil, patchouli essential oil and liquorice extract.

Apart from other applications, shea butter, coconut oil and babassu oil can be used as palm kernel oil alternatives. Cosmetics companies are looking into replacing palm kernel oil with substitutes, in a trend partly driven by consumer awareness of palm plantations being linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia.

Botanicals and their extracts, such as aloe vera and liquorice, are used in cosmetics products for their functional properties, partly because of consumer demand for natural and healthy products. The ageing population in Europe is also stimulating demand, since some of these extracts have anti-ageing properties.

Essential oils are commonly used as fragrances in cosmetics products. There is a lot of competition in the essential oils market, so suppliers of essential oils in developing countries should focus on niche oils which are native to their specific countries. Frankincense and patchouli have a good potential in the European cosmetics market. These are considered the most attractive ingredients for exporters of natural ingredients in developing countries.

Vegetable or animal derived oils, fats and waxes

Vegetable oils and fats are derived from plants, either from seeds or, less often, from other parts of fruits. The most common vegetable oils are palm oil, coconut oil, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil, hemp oil and avocado oil. Animal oils and fats are extracted from animal parts and include fat of cattle, fat of sheep and fat of buffalo. Vegetable waxes are waxes of plant origin that are commonly present as thin flakes.

Chart 5 shows that imports of palm oil are substantially higher than palm kernel oil. Palm oil is mainly used in food applications, while palm kernel oil is used in the cosmetics industry. Although palm oil volumes have soared since 2000, volumes of palm kernel oil have expanded at a steady rate.

Palm kernel oil is used in cosmetics, soaps and detergents, and pharmaceutical products, but the main application is in soap making. Coconut oil is considered the best substitute for palm kernel oil in soap making. Other substitutes include shea butter, babassu oil and tallow.

Table 2. Coconut, palm kernel and babassu oil imports from outside the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Coconut oil, palm kernel oil, babassu oil

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

1,207

1,249

1,435

1,221

1,276

1,229

1,238

1,336

% change

 

3%

15%

-15%

5%

-4%

1%

8%

EU28 value

1,397,457

1,204,356

971,410

1,105,610

1,255,852

1,432,833

1,702,020

1,406,838

% change

 

-14%

-19%

14%

14%

14%

19%

-17%

Source: Eurostat

Table 2 shows that the volume of European imports reached 1.3 billion tonnes in 2018, up 8% from 2017. The value of imports was €1.4 billion, declining -17% from 2017. If we look at the period between 2011 and 2018, there is a slight growth in volume and value, which is expected to continue.

Chart 6 shows that imports of palm kernel oil to Europe have fluctuated since 2012, decreasing from 733 thousand tonnes in 2016 to about 700 thousand tonnes in 2018.

An estimated 50% of all products on supermarket shelves contain palm oil, palm kernel oil or their derivatives. Since palm oil is linked to deforestation in Southeast Asia, its use in consumer products is turning into an issue for some companies. Some cosmetics companies are looking for alternatives to reduce or phase out use of palm kernel oil. For instance, British ethical cosmetics company Lush is planning to phase out palm oil from its supply chains. Such developments present an opportunity for vegetable oil producers in developing countries.

Import volumes of coconut, palm kernel and babassu oil into the EU have been increasing overall and are expected to continue to rise in the coming years. It is likely that imports of coconut oil and other palm oil alternatives will rise at the expense of palm kernel oil.

Many vegetable oils can be used as alternatives to palm kernel oil. These include rapeseed oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, shea butter, babassu oil, sal and illipé butter. Suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries should focus on palm oil alternatives that do not grow in Europe, which excludes sunflower, rapeseed and olive oil. For more details, see the CBI product factsheet on palm oil alternatives.

Tips:

  • Consider supplying vegetable oils that are replacing palm oil. See the CBI study on palm oil alternatives.
  • For more information on commercially available alternatives to palm oil, read this article.
  • Stay informed on developments in sustainable palm oil at the RSPO website.
  • The supply chain of palm oils is very complex. The oil goes through many stakeholders, from agents, farmers, producers of all sizes and traders to processors and consumer goods manufacturers. Many importing countries, such as India and China put less emphasis on sustainability than price, which creates conflicts of interest among multiple stakeholders. Read more about investigations into the palm oil supply chain.

Essential oils and oleoresins

Essential oils are natural oils typically obtained by distillation, having the characteristic odour of the plant or other source from which it is extracted. Oleoresins are a mixture of an essential oil and a resin found in nature.

A large number of countries produce natural essential oils, including China, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. An estimated 65% of the world production comes from low-cost operations in developing countries.

Table 3. Essential oil and oleoresin imports from outside the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Essential oils, oleoresins, etc.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

45

47

47

44

46

46

46

49

% change

 

3%

0%

-6%

5%

0%

-1%

6%

EU28 value

656,411

683,718

660,550

670,064

888,648

923,584

1,027,442

1,064,571

% change

 

4%

-3%

1%

33%

4%

11%

4%

Source: Eurostat

Table 3 shows imports of essential oils and oleoresins into Europe increased from 45 thousand tonnes to 49 thousand tonnes between 2011 and 2018, which is an increase of 9%. The value of imports grew from €656 million to €1 billion, an increase of 62%. Since 2014, there has been a sharp rise in prices for these oils.

According to the European Federation of Essential Oils (E.F.E.O), fragrances, cosmetics and aromatherapy generate about one third of the demand for essential oils. Demand from the cosmetics sector is expected to increase in the coming years, as a growing number of natural and conventional cosmetics companies are using essential oils as fragrances.

Germany, the Netherlands, the UK and France are the leading importing countries in Europe.

Table 4. Essential oil and oleoresin imports from within the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Essential oils, oleoresins etc.

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

37

36

38

41

44

39

40

51

% change

 

-2%

5%

9%

8%

-12%

1%

30%

EU28 value

449,335

430,936

446,028

512,716

625,265

630,661

758,841

785,151

% change

 

-4%

4%

15%

22%

1%

20%

3%

Source: Eurostat

Table 4 shows imports of essential oils and oleoresins from within the EU grew from 37 thousand tonnes in 2011 to 51 thousand tonnes in 2018. The value of imports within the EU reached €785 million in 2018, an increase of 74% from €449.3 million in 2011. The increase in essential oil and oleoresin volumes is likely to continue in the coming years.

France and Germany are the most important producers of essential oils in Europe. France has a strong fragrance industry and exports essential oils throughout Europe. It is an important supplier of high-value essential oils. Germany has a strong extraction industry and is a significant producer of refined essential oils. Germany and the Netherlands are significant re-exporters of essential oils to other European countries.

A recent trend for fragrance-free products in Europe could slow demand for essential oils. Consumers with sensitive skin tend to look for natural cosmetic products and fragrance-free products. Particularly in Scandinavian countries, there has been a growing shift towards fragrance-free cosmetic products.

The opportunities for suppliers of essential oils from developing countries are in supplying essential oils from plants that do not grow in Europe. Obtaining organic certification can also increase the competitiveness of essential oils suppliers from developing countries.

Synthetic essential oils are not considered to pose a threat to essential oils coming from developing countries. The general trend is that demand for natural essential oils is increasing, partly because of consumer demand and companies trying to switch to natural ingredients.

Tips:

Vegetable saps and extracts

Table 5 shows that the volume of imports of vegetable saps and extracts from outside the EU increased by 10% to 127 thousand tonnes. In general, import levels have been in decline since 2014. Imports of vegetable saps and extracts from outside the EU were valued at €875 million in 2018.

Demand for vegetable extracts is expected to increase in the coming years. In the cosmetics industry, demand is coming mostly from the skincare and haircare product categories, since vegetable extracts can have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.

Growth in the cosmeceuticals market is also generating demand for plant extracts. Cosmeceutical products are defined as cosmetic products with biologically active ingredients purporting to have medical or drug-like benefits.

Table 5. Imports of vegetable saps and extracts from outside the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tones and € thousand

Vegetable saps and extracts

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

126

117

130

142

130

117

116

127

% change

 

-7%

11%

9%

-8%

-10%

-2%

10%

EU28 value

619,027

738,366

686,906

679,455

776,439

739,479

764,924

875,035

% change

 

19%

-7%

-1%

14%

-5%

3%

14%

Source: Eurostat

Table 6 shows that imports of vegetable saps and extracts from within the EU grew by 5% to 123 thousand tonnes in 2018, reaching €1.1 billion in value. The volume of imports has fluctuated between 2011 and 2018, but the value of imports increased by 43% in the period.

Although volumes have overall declined since 2011, prices of vegetable saps and extracts have increased, affected by irregular yield and crop production, droughts, erratic weather conditions, climate change and other circumstances. In the coming years, volumes are expected to remain stable as values continue to rise.

Table 6. Imports of vegetable saps and extracts from within the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Vegetable saps and extracts

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

153

233

230

121

109

114

118

123

% change

 

52%

-1%

-47%

-10%

4%

4%

5%

EU28 value

790,223

897,385

901,627

927,135

962,035

1,023,067

1,069,736

1,132,267

% change

 

14%

0%

3%

4%

6%

5%

6%

Source: Eurostat

Table 7 show examples of natural extracts used in cosmetics and personal care products, which are gaining in popularity in Europe. They are used for various functions, but some extracts have multi-functional attributes. For example, pomegranate extract helps protect the skin from ultra-violet A and B rays. Aloe vera extracts have soothing properties and are proven to improve condition of psoriasis. Lavender, sea buckhorn and rosemary extracts can be used for brightening properties, while liquorice is used for its firming properties.

Table 7 Vegetable extracts used in cosmetics and personal care products

Name

INCI

Origin

Acerola fruits, dry extract

Malpighia punicifolia (acerola) fruit extract

Latin America, Asia

Aloe extract

Aloe barbadensis leaf extract

Grown in tropical climates

Anthyllis extract

Anthyllis vulneraria extract

Europe, Asia Minor, Iran, North Africa

Artemisia

Artemisia Abrotanum Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract

Eurasia, Africa, North America

Black tea extract

Camellia sinensis leaf extract

Tropical and subtropical regions

Bryophyllum extract

Kalanchoe daigremontiana leaf extract

Madagascar

Buckwheat extract

Polygonum fagopyrum (buckwheat) leaf extract

Asia, Central and Eastern Europe

Burdock root, extract

Arctium lappa root extract

Temperate regions in Europe, Middle East and Asia

Cabbage rose flower extract

Rosa centifolia flower extract

Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, France, India, others

Calendula extract

Calendula officinalis flower extract

Europe, Asia and the United States

Cane sugar bio

Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) extract

Subtropical regions

Cane sugar bio (sap)

Saccharum officinarum (sugar cane) extract

Subtropical regions

Crystalline ice plant extract

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum extract

Africa, Southern Europe, Americas and Australia

Fennel fruits, extract

Foeniculum vulgare (fennel) seed extract

Worldwide

Ginkgo extract

Ginkgo biloba leaf extract

Worldwide

Goldenrod extract

Solidago virgaurea (goldenrod) extract

Europe, North Africa and Asia

Hawthorn extract

Crataegus monogyna leaf/fruit extract

Europe, West Africa and Asia

Hops extract

Humulus lupulus (hops) cone extract

Europe, Asia and North America

Lemon balm extract

Melissa officinalis flower/leaf/stem extract

 Europe, Central Asia, Americas

Lemon grass extract

Cymbopogon citratus extract

 Europe, Central Asia, Americas

Lemon peel extract

Citrus limon (lemon) peel extract

 Europe, Central Asia, Americas

Lime blossoms, extract

Tilia cordata/platyphyllos flower extract

Sub-tropical regions

Liquorice root extract

Glycyrrhiza glabra (liquorice) extract

Middle East, Central Asia

Madonna lily extract

Lilium candidum bulb extract

Europe, North Africa, Mexico

Marshmallow leaves, extract

Althaea officinalis leaf extract

Europe, Asia and North Africa

Marshmallow root, extract

Althaea officinalis root extract

Europe, Asia and North Africa

Myrrh extract

Commiphora myrrha extract

Arabian peninsula, Africa

Nasturtium / inidan kress extract

Tropaeolum majus flower/leaf/stem extract

Endemic to the Andes from Bolivia to Colombia

Neem tree leaves, extract

Melia azadirachta leaf extract

Asia and Australasia

Oak bark, dry extract

Quercus robur bark extract

Europe, China and North America

Oak bark, extract

Quercus robur bark extract

Europe, China and North America

Olive leaves, extract

Olea europaea (olive) leaf extract

Subtropical regions

Pansies extract

Viola tricolor extract

Eurasia

Papaya fruit extract

Carica papaya fruit extract

Americas

Pineapple fruit, extract

Ananas sativus (pineapple) fruit extract

Tropical regions in the Americas

Pomegranate

Punica Granatum Fruit Extract

Middle East, Japan, Armenia, North Africa

Quince seeds, extract

Pyrus cydonia seed extract

Asia

Rathany root extract

Krameria triandra root extract

Endemic to Bolivia and Peru

Rose blossoms, extract

Rosa damascena flower extract

Europe, Middle East, Turkey

Rose hip extract

Rosa canina fruit extract

Europe, West Africa, Asia

Rosehip extract

Rosa rubiginosa extract

Europe, Asia

Rosemary herb, extract

Rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract

Mediterranean Region

Sea algae extract

Chondrus crispus extract

Europe and North America

Sea buckthorn berries extract

Hippophae rhamnoides fruit extract

Cold climates in Europe and Asia

St. John's wort extract

Hypericum perforatum flower/leaf/stem extract

Temperate regions

Stinging nettle extract

Urtica dioica (nettle) extract, urtica urens leaf extract

Worldwide

Wood sorrel extract

Oxalis acetosella extract

Europe and Asia

Source: Various

Suppliers in developing countries are advised to focus on extracts that are not available or have low supply in Europe.

Liquorice has been gaining popularity among cosmetics formulators. It is used in personal care products because of its anti-ageing and firming properties. Since the European population is ageing, it creates an opportunity for suppliers of liquorice extract.

Some of the main exporting countries of liquorice to Europe are Iran, China, USA and Turkmenistan. Western European countries are the main importers of liquorice: Germany, France and the Netherlands.

Illustration 1. Korres natural liquorice and urtica shampoo for oily hair

illustratie_1_1.jpg

Source: Korres

A growing number of cosmetics companies are using natural extracts in their product formulations. Extracts from aloe vera, sugar cane, lemon, lime, liquorice, myrrh, pomegranate, pineapple and papaya are interesting for exporters in developing countries. Many companies in developing countries are successful in exporting such extracts to Europe. For instance, Indian company Kancor Ingredients has a range of extracts which includes frangipani, jasmine grandiflorum, lotus, mimosa and tuberose.

An essential tool for potential exporters, CosIng is an official database of allowed and banned cosmetics ingredients in the EU. It is important to check whether there are any restrictions on natural ingredients that exporters from developing countries plan to supply. The database also provides information on the functions of these ingredients.

Tips:

  • See more information on the European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients at http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/cosing/.
  • Focus on supplying vegetable saps and extracts that do not grown in temperate regions of Europe. These include aloe vera, papaya, liquorice and pineapple. Companies such as Weleda use these extracts.
  • For more information on importing specific extracts, see specific CBI studies, such as the CBI report on exporting liquorice extract for cosmetics to Europe.

Raw plant materials

A wide range of raw plant materials are used in the production of cosmetic products. The expression raw plant materials usually refers to oily materials such as oils, fats, wax esters and ester oils, as well as surface-active agents which are used as emulsifiers, solubilising agents, etc. Humectants, thickening agents, film formers, as well as polymers are used as powders, ultraviolet absorbents, antioxidants, sequestering agents, colouring agents, such as dyes and pigments, along with vitamins and pharmaceutical agents, such as plant extracts and perfume. Some of these raw plant materials are included in other categories, such as oils, fats, waxes, colourants and dyes.

Table 8. Raw plant material imports from outside the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Raw plant material

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

95

92

99

109

104

110

115

120

% change

 

-4%

8%

10%

-5%

6%

5%

4%

EU28 value

308,967

319,336

336,039

368,954

407,271

442,836

465,605

483,009

% change

 

3%

5%

10%

10%

9%

5%

4%

Source: Eurostat

Table 8 shows that imports of raw plant materials into the EU have been increasing at a steady rate, reaching 120 thousand tonnes in 2018, at €483 million. The growing trend is likely to continue in the coming years.

Imports of raw plant materials are projected to continue to grow as demand for natural ingredients rises. Many cosmetics companies prefer to process natural ingredients within Europe, where there are a large number of processors, especially in Germany and France.

Table 9. Raw plant material imports from within the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Raw plant material

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

74

86

79

84

135

193

180

122

% change

 

16%

-8%

6%

61%

43%

-7%

-32%

EU28 value

790,223

897,385

901,627

927,135

962,035

1,023,067

1,069,736

1,132,267

% change

 

14%

0%

3%

4%

6%

5%

6%

Source: Eurostat

Table 9 shows that the level of imports of raw plant materials within the EU reached 122 thousand tonnes at a value of €1.1 billion. Volumes peaked at 193 thousand tonnes in 2016, but fell in subsequent years. Revenues have continued to rise, implying prices of raw plant materials are rising or more high value-added plant materials are being used.

A substantial amount of raw plant materials are sourced from European countries, such as Romania, Bulgaria and France. Demand for raw materials within Europe is likely to rise in the future, but raw plant materials such as lavender, honey and rosemary can be sourced from Europe.

Table 10 shows examples of raw plant materials used in cosmetics and personal care products, including a wide variety of raw plant materials available in Europe. There are specific raw plant-based materials that come from tropical and sub-tropical regions, including orange, green tea and sandalwood. These exotic ingredients could represent an opportunity for suppliers from developing countries. Indeed, many producers are already taking advantage of this opportunity. For instance, Sri Lankan company HDDES Group supplies ingredients based on sandalwood, frangipani and kevada.

Table 10 List of raw plant materials used in cosmetics and personal care products

Name

INCI

Country of Origin

Apple water

Pyrus malus (apple) fruit water

Worldwide, including central Asia in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan

Clover honey

Honey (mel)

Temperate regions worldwide, including Georgia and Armenia

Comb honey

Honey (mel)

Worldwide

Common horsetail

Equisetum arvense

Widespread in the northern hemisphere, including India and Iran. Southern hemisphere countries include Indonesia, Argentina, Brazil and Madagascar

Green tea

Camellia sinensis leaf

Tropical and sub-tropical regions, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya

Honey

Mel

Worldwide

Lavender

Lavandula angustifolia

Mediterranean, as well as Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania

Lavender water

Lavandula angustifolia (Lavender) Flower Water

Mediterranean, as well as Kenya, South Africa and Tanzania

Marigold flower/calendula

Calendula officinalis

Worldwide, including Mexico, Peru, India

Nettle

Urtica dioica herb

Worldwide, including Morocco, Kenya, South Africa

Orange flower water

Citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) flower water

Tropical and sub-tropical regions, including Mexico, Egypt and South Africa

Rosemary

Rosmarinus officinalis

Morocco, Mexico, South Africa

Royal jelly (gelée royal)

Royal jelly

Worldwide

Sandalwood water

Santalum album (sandalwood) wood water

Southeast Asia and Northern Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia

Spring flower honey

Honey (mel)

Worldwide

Source: Various

Use of food ingredients in cosmetics has grown in recent years, partly driven by the need for innovation. However, some food ingredients have beneficial properties on the skin. For example, natural cosmetics brand Dr. Hauschka uses a range of natural ingredients in its cosmetic products. Illustration 2 shows how it is marketing products with sandalwood water.

Illustration 2. Dr Hauschka Regenerative Intensive Treatment

illustratie_2.jpg

Source: Dr. Hauschka

Since raw plant‐based materials are usually obtained from agriculture and forestry, their main limitations are fluctuations in supply, quality, seasonal variation and dependency on harvests.

In developing countries, climate change will cause declines in crop production and some farmers are already feeling the effects. For example, orange growers in Bhutan were hit by effects of greening disease and irregular rainfall. These fluctuations affect soil quality and slow down fruit growth, forcing farmers to switch to other corps, such as cardamom.

Colouring matter of vegetable or animal origin

Natural colourants are dyes and colourants derived from plants, invertebrates and minerals. The most common natural colourants are derived from various parts of plants and other biological sources such as fungi and lichens. Cosmetics companies are increasingly looking for natural dyes to replace synthetic dyes in product formulations.

Table 11 Imports of colourants from outside the EU 2011–2018, in 1,000 tonnes and € thousand

Colourants

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

EU28 volume

8

7

8

9

9

10

9

10

% change

 

-10%

20%

6%

4%

2%

-3%

8%

EU28 value

157,432

148,173

130,775

132,752

174,842

179,566

194,833

182,304

% change

 

-6%

-12%

2%

32%

3%

9%

-6%

Source: Eurostat

Table 11 shows that demand for colourants of vegetable origin in the EU is increasing both in volume and value. The global natural dyes market is forecast to reach US$5 billion by 2024. The market is expected to grow at the compound annual growth rate of 11% between 2018 and 2024, thanks mostly to increasing demand for natural and safer products. Plant-based colourants accounted for approximately two thirds of the market.

Table 12 lists natural colourants and their origin, including beetroot, calendula, chamomile, nettle and rosehip, which are available in Europe. However, colourants such as henna, turmeric, hibiscus, spirulina, sandalwood and indigo are imported into the European market.

Table 12. Natural colourants used in cosmetics and personal care products

Name

INCI

Colour

Country of Origin

Açaí

Euterpe oleracea extract

Purple (extract) / green (oil)

Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Guianas

Alkanet

Alkanna tinctoria root extract

Red / purple

Hungary, South and Eastern Europe, Turkey, North Africa

Annatto

Bixa orellana seed extract

Orange / red

Latin America

Avocado

Persea gratissima oil

Green / yellow

Mexico, Dominican Republic, Peru, Indonesia, Colombia and Brazil

Blue Tansy

Tanacetum annuum flower oil

Blue

Temperate regions in Europe, Asia and North America

Buriti

Mauritia flexuosa fruit oil

Red / orange

Latin America

Butterfly Pea

Clitoria ternatea flower extract

Purple / blue

Southeast Asia, Africa, Australia and Americas

Calendula

Calendula officinalis flower extract

Orange

Europe, Western Asia, and the United States

Carrot root

Daucus carota sativa root extract

Orange

Worldwide

Chamomile

Matricaria recutita flower oil

Blue

Native to Western Europe, India, and Asia

Elderberry

Sambucus nigra extract

Red / purple

Europe, North America, Australasia and South America

Henna

Lawsonia inermis extract

Red / orange

Asia, Africa

Hibiscus

Hibiscus rosa-sinensis flower extract

Red / pink

Tropical and sub-tropical regions

Indigo

Indigofera tinctoria extract

Blue / mauve

Tropical and sub-tropical regions in Asia and Africa

Iris

Iris germanica extract

Purple / blue / green

Temperate regions in the northern hemisphere

Madder

Rubia tinctorum extract

Red / purple

Eastern Mediterranean and Asia

Monascus purpureus

Monascus extract

Red / purple

East Asia

Nettle

Urtica dioica leaf extract

Green

Worldwide

Paprika

Capsicum anuum extract

Red / purple

Worldwide

Pomegranate

Punica granatum fruit extract

Red / purple

Middle East, Japan, Armenia, North Africa

Red Cabbage

Brassica oleracea leaf extract

Pink / purple

Worldwide

Red Clover

Trifolium pratense extract

Golden yellow

Worldwide

Red Sandalwood

Pterocarpus santalinum extract

Red

India

Rosehip

Rosa canina fruit oil

Red / orange

Native to Europe, West Africa and Asia

Safflower

Carthamus tinctorius seed oil

Yellow / red

Asia and Americas

Saffron

Crocus sativus extract

Yellow

Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco, Italy, Iran and Spain

Sea buckthorn

Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Oil

Orange

Endemic to cold, temperate regions of Europe and Asia

Spinach

Spinacia oleracea Leaf extract

Green / yellow

Europe, Asia and North America

Spirulina

Spirulina platensis extract

Blue / green

Mainly found in Africa, but also in Asia

St. John’s Wort

Hypericum perforatum flower extract

Red

Worldwide

Tomato

Solanum lycopersicum extract

Red / orange

Worldwide

Turmeric

Curcuma longa extract

Yellow / orange

Asia, Latin America

Walnut

Juglans nigra shell extract

Orange / brown

China, the US, EU, Ukraine, Chile, Turkey and Moldova

Woad

Isatis tinctoria leaf extract

Blue / indigo

Europe, Asia and North America

Yarrow

Achillea millefolium oil

Blue

Temperate regions worldwide

Source: Various

Colourants, such as henna and indigo are used in hair colour products. For example, German natural cosmetics company Logocos markets hair colours that contain henna under the Logona and Sante brands.

Illustration 3. L’Oréal Botanēa Hair Colour

illustratie_3.jpg

Source: L’Oréal

In 2018, French cosmetics company L’Oréal launched a natural hair colour line using henna, indigo and cassia under the Botanēa brand name. The company has implemented a three-year responsible sourcing programme for these ingredients in India, aiming to improve the economic situation of farmers and local communities. UK cosmetics company Lush uses blue spirulina, hibiscus and turmeric as colourants in its products. Natural colourants are often used to dye soaps.

There are possible opportunities for developing country exporters in natural dyes, considering their growing use and the fact that many come from plants that do not grow in Europe.

Suppliers of natural ingredients in developing countries should focus on exporting via importers and traders. Large companies, such as L’Oréal, have resources to establish sourcing partnerships, but most cosmetics companies prefer to source indirectly.

Environmentally friendly production methods are important for cosmetics manufacturers. Suppliers of natural ingredients from developing countries should make sure that their raw materials are sourced sustainably. Quality and reliability of supply, however, are the most important factors that European buyers take into account.

One of the main advantages of natural dyes is safety. Natural dyes are considered safer for human health. Indeed, they do not cause health problems if ingested. Since natural dyes are from a renewable source, the plant sources may require large areas of agricultural land, which raises sustainability concerns.

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