Exports Of Essential Oils From The Caribbean To Europe Are Increasing Due To The Boom In Natural Cosmetics

It is becoming increasingly common to find natural cosmetic products in large retail stores, perfume stores and supermarkets. In Europe, the cosmetics market is valued at 77 billion euros, making it the largest market in the world and, within this, natural cosmetic products account for approximately 5% of the market. The sector is currently growing at an annual rate of 8-10%. The UK’s certified natural and organic cosmetics market is at an all-time high as sustainable shoppers continue to drive the market for green beauty. Around 50% of British consumers favour cosmetics made from natural ingredients – the highest figure in Europe.  In 2018, sales of certified organic and natural beauty products grew for an eighth consecutive year to reach £86.5m, up 14% on the previous year.

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The European Union is not only the largest supplier of cosmetics in the world but also the main source of demand for natural ingredients for developing these products, particularly plant-based oils and fats. Around 45% of EU imports of essential oils come from developing countries. “In 2018, Caribbean countries (CARICOM) exported essential oils valued at over 32 million euros to the EU, which represents 8% of all imports to the region”, indicates Damie Sinanan, the competitiveness and export promotion manager of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export). “We are seeing this demand increase year by year, in large part due to greater concern about sustainability and ethics on the part of European consumers. In the past year, exports of essential oils from CARICOM to the EU have grown by 33%”. The UK imports €679K of essentials oils from CARICOM.

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Consumers’ growing concern about the side effects of chemical products, dissemination of information about the benefits of natural ingredients and the rise in ethical consumption are some of the factors driving the growth of the natural cosmetics segment within the industry. Four out of ten (41%) British females frequently check the label on the packaging about ingredients of the cosmetics they use. The common concern concentrates on potential risks of harmful chemicals to human health and the possibility of skin irritation.


 The Caribbean is not only famous for its heavenly beaches and rum but also for the natural ingredients produced in this region. Specifically, Jamaican black castor oil and coconut oil are two of its star ingredients. The first is used in moisturizing or hydrating products for dry skin, as well as to strengthen hair and prevent hair, eyebrow and eyelash loss. Coconut oil, for its part, is used in moisturizers for the body, lips and scalp, as exfoliants, and even for preventing the appearance of premature wrinkles and spots, thanks to its antibiotic and anti-microbial properties that protect against UV rays and free radicals.

“Apart from the health benefits of these oils and other natural ingredients many Caribbean companies sell in the EU, they also work hard to make products as sustainable as possible, from production to packaging, with the aim of not generating waste or harming the environment”, comments Sinanan. Consumers are demanding that companies use less plastic, more recyclable materials and eco-friendly products and packaging. “In fact, some of the region’s best-selling products in Europe are those that are fully biodegradable, like the soaps from bahamaSpa™, and those made without cruelty to animals and that support eco-trade of local farmers in the Caribbean, like those of True Shade Cosmetics Limited and Sugar Town Organics”.

This year, eighteen Caribbean companies in the cosmetics and nutraceutical industry will participate in the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum, which is being held from 26 to 28 September in Frankfurt. This event, organized by Caribbean Export together with the European Union and the German Development Agency (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH), aims to promote trade relations between the countries of the Caribbean and Europe, as well as to raise the visibility of the natural products and ingredients that originate in the Caribbean region.

I have seen a shift over the last year alone where more and more consumers are requesting oil-based products for their skin, such as those offered in Europe.  We started out from a place of offering plant-based cosmetics and receive many enquiries from concerned persons who are curious about our use of natural produce that are found within the Caribbean and whether our ingredients are indeed 100% natural. We are happy to respond and invite them into our garden space where they can see for themselves. We also share photos and behind the scenes shots on our social media pages,” expressed Anastasha Elliott owner from Sugar Town Organics, one of the participant companies at the event.


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The healthy lifestyle of Europeans along with the region’s efforts to promote sustainability is driving the demand for natural ingredients beyond the cosmetics industry. In Europe, this demand is concentrated in the EU5 countries, which include Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and it is being seen in the food sector especially.

Seven in ten consumers would be willing to give up their favourite products in favour of others that do not contain artificial ingredients; and six in ten consumers value the fact that the food they buy or consume is produced sustainably, particularly when they reduce the use of pesticides and are affordable.

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If you take the Dominican Republic for example, the country has dedicated more than 150 thousand hectares to organic farming, and what is produced on that acreage generates over 447 million euros, according to the FAO. In fact, approximately 95% of Dominican organic banana exports are shipped to the European Union, making up nearly 50% of its supply”, states Sinanan. “Interest in ecological and sustainable production and fair trade are helping to make trade relations with Europe more fruitful.”

Link to “Bringing the Authentic Caribbean To Europe” video here

For more information about the 4th CARIFORUM-EU Business Forum, visit: http://www.carib-export.com/businessforum/

For more information about Caribbean Export, visit: www.carib-export.com

About the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export)

The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) is a regional organization of the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) dedicated to the development of exports and promotion of trade and investment. It is currently implementing the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) financed by the European Union in the framework of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF). Caribbean Export’s mission is to enhance the competitiveness of Caribbean countries through the delivery of quality services for export development and trade and investment promotion through the implementation of strategic programs and partnerships.