South Korea's cosmetic exports are on the up!

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

South Korea's cosmetic exports are on the up!

Related tags International trade Korea

According to South Korea’s customs office, cosmetic exports made it out of the red in 2014, giving the country its first annual surplus in the sector.

Last year, trade rose by 50% to US$1.92 bn, exceeding imports of USD 0.99 bn after experiencing a bad spell where consumers preferred established imported brands from the US, France and Japan.

Toners, moisturizers and essences took the largest proportion of cosmetic exports, which accounted for more than 49% of total exports.

According to the Korea Customs Service, export destinations hit 129 last year, higher than the 95 countries it imports makeup from. This is also the first time cosmetic exports exceeded USD 1 bn.

Back in 2004, the export volume of cosmetics remained at USD 0.17 bn.

Key destinations included China, Hong Kong, Japan, the U.S. and Southeast Asian countries. China is Korea’s largest export destination for its cosmetics. Korea’s cosmetics exports to China alone hit USD 261.3 million in 2013.

Other Asian countries, Japan, Singapore, Thailand and elsewhere (excluding the U.S.) made up the rest of the top ten export destinations list.

International enthusiasm

The main driver behind the growth in exports appears to be twofold: the number of countries importing South Korean beauty goods is increasing, while the price of the individual products is also on the rise.

Korean-made cosmetic products were exported to 129 countries last year, compared with 87 countries in 2004, and over the decade, the cost per kilogram also nearly doubled to $22.88.

South Korea is increasingly a new focal market for industry professionals, as it is arguably the one of the most innovative personal care markets in the APAC region, with sales of cosmetics and toiletries growing by 9.1 per cent in 2012.

Korea is Asia’s third largest cosmetics market and has been growing steadily since 2009. As home to more than 1,500 cosmetic manufacturers and the world’s highest spenders per capita in the field of skincare and male grooming products, it offers a huge opportunity,” ​Lucy Gillam, director at Reed Exhibitions and industry expert, has noted.

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