Scents of the Amazon: Replacing Rosewood in Perfumery? Part I*

Part I: New essential oils from Brazilian biodiversity*

Brazil’s landmass totals 8,525,000 km2, of which the Amazon region covers 5,000,000 km2. This biodiverse region is home to 400-plus species of mammals, 3,000 species of fish and 2,000 species of birds. Plant species reach into the tens of thousands. The array of natural products that can be derived from this wildly varied environment includes pigments, gums, fatty oils, medicinal and toxic plants, and of course aromatic plants from which essential oils are derived. This latter category is comprised of ~1,000 plants.

Yet there are challenges in harvesting the promise of these naturals. The annual rate of destruction in the Amazon has reached 26,000 km2. Between May 2000 and August 2005, Brazil lost more than 132,000 km2 of forest (an area larger than Greece) to pastures (60%), soy fields and subsistence agriculture. In addition, commercially important materials such as rosewood are becoming endangered.

Cosmetics and Perfumery Market in Brazil: Mapping Brazilian Aromatic Plants

Brazil is home to the seventh largest personal care, perfumery and cosmetics market in the world (see T-1 and T-2 for world market sizes by category and market sizes by retail value, respectively). About 1,400 companies in the country operate in this sector, with the top 16 companies responsible for 72.4% of total sales. (For details on top 10 companies, see T-3.) Brazilian personal care, perfumery and cosmetics sales totaled $6.4 billion in 2005. The last five years have witnessed an average growth of 10.7% (source: ABIHPEC, the Brazilian cosmetic society), despite a dearth of local technological efforts.

In 2004, Brazil ws the 10th largest essential oil importer ($42 million) in the world. Simultaneously, the country is the world’s fourth leading essential oil exporter (US$98 million). (For a rundown of key materials, see T-4.) The domestic cosmetic and perfumery industry fragments as follows: hair care 25%, fragrance 13%, oral care 10%, bath 10%, skin care 9% and deodorant 9% (source: ABIHPEC). The country’s growing sales rate in cosmetics (~17%) has outstripped everyone (including China), except for Argentina. The market share of the Brazilian cosmetics segment breaks down into: 69% personal care, 18% cosmetics and 13% perfumes.

The strong growth has sparked a competitive landscape, including national companies such as Dierberger, Centroflora & Anidro and Sanrisil; Amazonian interests such as Beraca-Brasmazon, Magama Industrial, Erva Ativa, Kaiorós (ex-Aromatica), Robert Mause and Benchimol (Bemol); and international interests including IFF, Givaudan, Firmenich and Mane.

Brazil has already commercialized a number of traditional raw materials for the fragrance industry, including rosewood, tonka beans and copaiba. Some interesting emerging essential oils of the region include Cordia verbenaceae, Lippia sidoides, Schinus therebentifolium, Baccharis dracunculifolia, Piptadenia rigida, basil (Ocimum basilicum) and Priprioca (Cyperus articulatus). From Amazon new oils are being researched as Breu (Protium heptaphyllum), Aeolanthus suaveolens, Macacaporanga (Aniba parviflora) and rosewood leaf oil. 

Address correspondence to Lauro E.S. Barata; [email protected]

*Adapted from a presentation at Centifolia—6th International Congress on Perfumery and Natural Raw Materials, Grasse, France.


T-1. World market for personal care, perfumery and cosmetics (2002)


Market value in US$ millions

World market %

US 45,158 25
Japan 19,390 10
France 9,767 5
Germany 9,492 5
UK 9,492 5
Italy 6,887 4
Brazil 6,339 4
China 5,455 3
South Korea 4,897 3
Mexico 4,523 3
Others 59,058 34
Top 10 120,608 76
Source: Euromonitor

T-2. Market sizes, US$ billions (fixed exchange rate)

 Global category


 % 04/05

Cosmetics and toiletries  253.3  4.9
Baby care  4.4  7.3
Bath and shower products  23.5   3
Deodorants  12  6
Hair care  50.9  4.1
Color cosmetics  34.5  4.3
Men's grooming products  20.2  6
Oral hygiene  24.7  3.7
Fragrances  27.6  5
Skin care  56  6.8
Depilatories  3.1  4.2
Sun care  5.5  7.7
Note: sum of the sectors is greater than the market size because men's toiletries products are included in men's
Source: Euromonitor

T-3. Cosmetics and toiletries world market sizes—retail value US$ billions

Cosmetics and toiletries


 % 04/05 

World  253.3  4.9
Western Europe  76.3  2.6
Eastern Europe  17.4  9.6
North America  53.9  3.3
Latin America  28.8  11.3
Asia Pacific  63.1  5
Australasia  3.5  3.1
Africa and Middle East  10.4  7.1
Source: Euromonitor

T-4. Top 10 cosmetic companies in Brazil, 2004


 Sales in US$ millions

 Country of origin

Unilever  2,562  UK/ Holland
Avon  1,015  US
Natura  968  Brazil
Johnson & Johnson  751  US
Colgate-Palmolive  574  US
O Boticario  375  Brazil
L'Oreal  321  France
Procter & Gamble*  161  US
Beiersdorf  132  Germany
Embelleze  114  Brazil
*total sales; Source: Global Cosmetics and Toiletries 2005 (Kline Group)

T-5. Main Brazilian essential oil exports (August 2005–August 2006, in US$ millions)


 US$ millions

 Volume (ton)

 Average price US$

Orange  65.80  30,268.6  2.18
Lime  3.08  221.4  13.92
Eucalyptus  2.19  315.5  6.96
Rosewood  2.80  38.5  72.89
Lemon  6.08  735.6  8.27
Other oils  2.42  98.4  24.61
Total  82.4  31,678  2.60
Source: AliceWeb, Brazil 2006

More in Ingredients