Korea now fifth-biggest beauty exporter to EU

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Korea now fifth-biggest beauty exporter to EU

Korea is now one of the top beauty product exporters to the European Union, surpassing Japan to take the No. 5 spot in terms of value.

According to a report released by the International Trade Association on Tuesday, Korea exported 135 million euros ($158 million) of beauty products to the EU last year, pushing Japan down to the No. 6 spot.

The United States took the top spot last year, with 1.2 billion euros of exports to the EU. China came in second with 630 million euros, followed by Switzerland with 574 million euros and Canada with 137 million.

Although it placed fifth overall, Korea actually recorded the highest year-on-year increase among the top five, at 46.8 percent. The report added that the 135 million euros was a 10-fold increase compared to 2010.

A major contributor to the rise in popularity of Korean beauty goods across Europe is the growing trend for eco-friendly or vegan lifestyle. The analysis, from Korea International Trade Association’s (KITA) Brussels office, pointed out that Korean brands managed to cater to these changing tastes as they heavily promote the use of natural ingredients like ginseng, green tea and aloe plants.

This was backed by a survey conducted by Cosmetics Europe in April last year: 52 percent of respondents answered that a product’s effect on the environment was a major factor they considered when making beauty purchases.

The analysis said that there is a growing perception in Europe that Korean beauty products are good quality. Korean brands also offer products that are otherwise hard to find from European brands, like sheet masks and cushion foundations.

For companies that aim to launch businesses in Europe, KITA advised that it’s necessary to verify that product ingredients are not animal-tested, as such testing was banned by the European Union in 2013.

“Several European companies [we] interviewed said Korean brands have to work more to increase awareness and particularly make sure to emphasize that they are Korean, as a lot of [European] consumers know that animal-testing is mandatory for beauty products in China,” said the report.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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