CAPSUM - Cosmetics - France

Cosmetics in Provence: A tradition of excellence, a renowned expertise

Provence is at the heart of the perfume and cosmetics industry and Provençal companies enjoy worldwide admiration for their savoir-faire and their creative brilliance. The region has a celebrated history of providing exceptional natural ingredients (lavender, olive oil, clary sage, jasmine, rose…), while the cachet of being “Made in Provence” is an internationally recognized sign of quality that allows regional businesses to easily find partners and access coveted global markets such as China, the USA, or Japan.

Whether it be raw materials or finished products, the cosmetics sector in Provence generates a significant volume of export activity, a fact that should motivate any and all entrepreneurs who are inspired by the fragrances of the South of France.

Entering the market with a new cosmetics brand or product is made easy in Provence thanks to an established support network that has experience at every step of the value chain: creation, formulation, transformation, analysis...

The cosmetics sector in Provence is structured around a dynamic ecosystem composed of a competiveness cluster, public research facilities and private laboratories, small and medium-sized businesses, and industrial experts. This ecosystem embraces all four of the sector’s principal domains:

  • Cultivation of aromatic plants and flowers;
  • Production of natural ingredients and extracts;
  • Manufacture of finished products;
  • Distribution through state-of-art logistics and transport networks.

The community of cosmetics professionals in Provence is committed to the green revolution and environmentally-friendly business practices. Recent years have seen an enormous increase in investment in innovative technologies that facilitate the production of the most natural products possible. Provence is home to a number of brands that are well-placed in the growing organic and all-natural markets and the local sector features global leaders in agricultural techniques that respect the environment. Provence’s growers are adopting pioneering cultivation techniques and avant-garde production sites that use less solvents, consume less energy, and produce less waste.

Within this sustainable development framework, a collective branding program has been launched to protect that authenticity of the cosmetics sector in Provence. To this end, new marketing and labeling initiatives have been established such as Authentic Provence or Savon de Marseille Traditionnel for the traditional soap-making process.


Key Figures for Cosmetics in Provence

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Region is:

  • #1 in France for the production of perfumed products
  • #1 location for the cosmetics-perfumes sector
  • #1 region for the distillation and packaging of essential oils
  • #1 in the world for lavandin extract.

As whole, the sector:

  • Provides 17 000 direct and indirect jobs
  • Generates €2.5 billion turnover per year
  • Welcomes 25% of the headquarters for French cosmetics companies

(Source: Centre d’Etude et de Développement Durable Euroméditerranéen)


Provence’s Cosmetics Advantage

  • In Provence, there is a unified network of public and private actors committed to the future of the sector, including:

> A dedicated competiveness cluster known as PASS (Parfum Arômes Senteurs Saveurs or Perfumes, Aromas, Scents, and Flavors)

The PASS cluster brings together companies and organizations from every step of the aromatics and cosmetics value chain in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur including industrial sites, corporations, small and medium-sized businesses, research laboratories, training facilities, professional associations, and universities. The cluster aims to become an international benchmark for the characterization, assessment, and production of the natural extracts used in the aromatics and cosmetics industry and it is fully committed to the success of the sector’s four main industrial branches: perfumes, cosmetics, detergents, and food additives.

With a focus on pooled services and collaborative projects, the PASS cluster has identified five priorities:

  • Plant optimization
  • Eco-friendly processes
  • Functionality
  • Safety-efficacy
  • New applications

> The COSMED Association

COSMED is a professional association that was created in Marseille in 2000 to support small and medium-sized businesses in the cosmetics sector. The association now counts 740 members, 90% of them small or medium-sized companies or industries. Its objectives are:

  • To support the development of cosmetics companies;
  • To promote and defend the interests of small and medium-sized businesses and to represent them in dealings with oversight committees and health authorities;
  • To share professional information, notably in regards to industry regulations;
  • To organize professional training programs for the cosmetics sector.

> The UIC Méditerranée

The UIC Méditerranée professional association brings together companies from the PACA, Corse, and Languedoc-Roussillon regions and works on development and competiveness issues for the chemical industry and its applications. In the Mediterranean region, 20% of chemical companies are involved in natural extracts (creation and production of flavors and essential oils) while 16% of companies are involved in the hygiene and beauty market (soap, detergent, perfume, etc.).

  • A further advantage for the sector in Provence is the area's remarkable concentration of companies

The region is home to the headquarters of 25% of French companies working in the sector while the ecosystem features every size and type of business, from major international corporations to small family business, working in areas such as plant cultivation, extraction, soap-making, master perfumery, laboratories, factories, packaging… This concentration of companies and diversity of expertise provides regional businesses with an enormous advantage in terms of partnerships and business opportunities, including sub-contracting, joint R&D efforts, and equipment sharing.

  • Provence also boasts a diverse selection of educational and training opportunities

Aix-Marseille University offers graduate and post-graduate programs in applied chemistry and cosmetics including a Master’s of Chemistry with various cosmetics specialties, a Master’s in Sensory Analysis, a Bachelor’s in Management for the Cosmetics Industry, and a Bachelor’s in Applied Chemistry.

There are also other accredited training venues that offer specialized cosmetics industry programs such as the AFSO Grasse center, the Cosmed professional association, or the Université Européenne des Senteurs et Saveurs in Forcalquier.

Finally, in partnership with the PASS competiveness cluster and other key players in the cosmetics industry, the Pass-Rel website offers a selection of training programs and offers of employment for the sector.