High growth makes organics market focus of M&A activity

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Personal care products, Organic personal care, Cosmetics

This year L'Oreal, the world's largest cosmetic player, increased
its footprint in the naturals and organic market with the purchase
of The Body Shop and Sanoflore - acquisitions that are likely to
lead to further activity during the course of 2007.

In the US the consolidation of the naturals and organic market is already well under way. This year natural oral care producer Tom of Maine was purchased by Colgate and Hain Celestial has already made a number of acquisitions within the category.

Such moves, together with previous M&A activity, has helped to define a naturals and organics market that is now dominated by major companies in the US. However, in Europe, industry experts believe that the landscape is currently much different.

Currently there are still a number of significant smaller and independent producers of natural and organic personal care products - a situation that is likely to be corrected in the future as larger international players move in to increase their footprint in the European market and tap into significant growth.

"We expect to see more of such acquisitions in the next years,"​ said Organic Monitor's​ Tina Gill. "Overall the cosmetics industry is stagnating, whereas natural and organic cosmetic sales are increasing 20 per cent a year."

Gill points out that in Europe the category is still characterised by small, niche players, many of whom are currently struggling to meet demand for their products.

Currently the largest players in Europe consist of Weleda, a Swiss company that is represented in almost all European markets, Dr. Hauschka, Aveda, US-based Jason Natural and Sanoflore.

Of these companies, both Sanoflore and Jason Natural have been acquired by larger companies - Jason Natural being snapped by US company Hain Celestial in 2004.

What has held back the consolidation of the market in Europe is the fact that few companies are large enough to be acquired and developed by international players.

Gill points out that for these reasons and the anthrosophical nature of the businesses both Weleda and Dr Hauschka's Wala brand are unlikely to be up for sale, leaving little room for potential scope in the European market.

"Because of this, large companies like Clarins are targeting smaller producers like Kibio. They plan to build them up so as they compete with the likes of Weleda and Dr. Hauschka,"​ Gill said.

Although many of the smaller naturals and organic players are expanding significantly by developing overseas market, particularly in Asia, their expansion plans will be curtailed by a lack of resources and capital.

Next week CosmeticsDesign-Europe.com​ will take a look at the growing markets for natural and organic personal care products in both Asia and Eastern Europe, focusing on how development of the markets there is helping to shape the global market.

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