According to the latest report on European trade flows published by Spectaris, the German ophthalmic optics industry association, Germany was once again the European Union’s biggest importer of ophthalmic optics products in 2018, reaching a level of €1.43 billion. France remained in second place with an import value of €1.38 billion. Italy swapped places with the U.K. to become the third-biggest one with an import value of €1.24 billion. The U.K., fourth, had €1.2 billion.

The Netherlands kept its fifth place with an import value of €732 million, followed by Spain (€493 million), Belgium (€333 million), Poland (€272 million), Austria (€226 million), the Czech Republic (€217 million), Sweden (€191 million), Denmark (€179 million), Portugal (€163 million), Hungary (€126 million), Greece (€75 million), Ireland (€74 million), Finland (€65 million), Romania (€49 million), Slovenia (€47 million), Estonia (€42 million), Croatia (€37 million), Luxembourg (€36 million), Lithuania (€34 million), Slovakia (€24 million), Bulgaria (€20 million), Latvia (€18 million), Cyprus (€13 million) and Malta (€5 million).

Again, prescription frames accounted for the largest share of the EU’s import trade in the sector, with a total value of €2.16 billion in 2018, up by 2.5 percent from 2017. Imports of sunglasses reached €2.19 billion, slightly down by 0.6 percent from the previous year. Contact lenses reached a total import value of €1.99 billion, up 2.5 percent from 2017. They were followed by finished lenses at €1.54 billion, up from €1.53 billion. Semi-finished lenses had an import value of €690 million in 2018.

Italy was again the biggest exporter of ophthalmic optics products in Europe in 2018 with an export value of €3.51 billion, followed at a distance by Germany with €1.44 billion. Ireland came in third, outranking the U.K. once again with an export value of €1.21 billion. The U.K. ranked fourth, with €1.1 billion in exported products for 2018, followed by the Netherlands with an export value of €796 million.

After these five countries, the export ranking continues with France in sixth place (€575 million), followed by Belgium (€340 million), the Czech Republic (€248 million), Hungary (€240 million), Spain (€182 million), Poland (€181 million), Austria (€177 million), Denmark (€128 million), Portugal (€114 million), Sweden (€70 million), Slovenia (€58 million), Lithuania (€28 million), Estonia (€21 million), Luxembourg (€19 million), Greece (€12 million), Finland (€12 million), Romania (€11 million), Latvia (€8 million), Croatia (€7 million), Cyprus (€5 million), Slovakia (€4 million), Bulgaria (€3 million) and Malta (€1 million).

Sunglasses made up the biggest share of Europe’s total export trade in 2018 with a total value of €3.28 million. They were followed by contact lenses with an export value of €3.42 million, and by prescription frames with exports of €2.1 billion. Finished ophthalmic lenses reached export sales of €894 million and semi-finished lenses €579 million.

Spectaris has included a chapter on the European contact lens market. Sales of contact lenses in Europe reached a total of €1.8 billion in 2018. Sales in EU member countries amounted to a total of €1.4 billion. For 2018, the contact lens market recorded sales of €340 million in the U.K., €228 million in Italy, €206 million in Germany, €189 million in France and €120 million in Spain.

Spectaris’ statistical study also breaks down 2018 sales by main product categories in each country, using GfK’s retail panel. In France, for example, ophthalmic lenses accounted for 60 percent of total retail sales, whereas in Germany they made up 63 percent of the turnover. The ratios were 45 percent in Italy and 47 percent in Spain.

Sunglasses accounted for 7 percent of sales in France, 4 percent in Germany, 20 percent in Italy and 12 percent in Spain. Frames represented 27 percent of sales in France, 24 percent in Germany, 19 percent in Italy and 20 percent in Spain. Contact lenses made up 5 percent of sales in France, 8 percent in Germany, 17 percent in Italy and 15 percent in Spain.