Regulation and Innovation: The Future of the Packaging Industry in France
10/29/2023 Look into Europe Industry Countries / Market Report

Regulation and Innovation: The Future of the Packaging Industry in France

The French packaging market is proving to be a significant industry with robust sales and a major employer. Despite many challenges, forecasts point to further growth.

Map of France in the colours of the French flag. The turnover of the French packaging industry is currently between 30 and 35 billion euros.

France is one of the leading industrialised nations in the world, which is also reflected in the country's packaging market. Thanks to strong trade links and continued high domestic demand, it is one of the largest and most developed in the world. While there are no official statistics, the Conseil National de l'Emballage (National Packaging Council) estimates that the turnover of the French packaging industry is currently between 30 and 35 billion euros and the industry provides employment for around 200,000 people. The market shows a clear growth trend. For example, analysts at Mordor Intelligence forecast an annual growth rate of 1.76 percent for the French packaging market until 2028.


Food and Beverages as Growth Drivers

Demographic change and factors such as urbanisation, the increase in single households and rising prices are also changing consumer shopping habits in France. This is leading to an increasing demand for new types of packaging such as convenience and low-cost packaging as well as multiple and single-serve packs. Low cost and low weight are therefore expected to contribute to significant growth in rigid packaging. Flexible plastics also accommodate these trends due to their lighter weight.

French cuisine and its delicacies are known and sought after worldwide. This also increases the sales of packaging manufacturers. On the one hand, the increasing number of tourists in France leads to an increased demand for traditional French food and beverages. This, in turn, has led to the increased use of multilingual labels for French products, in addition to the need for corresponding packaging. 

A report by GlobalData shows that the food industry will account for the largest share of packaging material consumption in France in 2021 at 59.5 percent, followed by the soft drinks industry. The thriving food and beverage market is driving demand for packaging. Financial data from Atradius confirms this trend: in 2022, French food and beverage production will grow by around four per cent, after an increase of 4.6 percent in the previous year and a decrease of two per cent in 2020.

France also leads Europe in per capita wine consumption with 25.2 million hectolitres in 2021. By comparison, in Great Britain it will only be 13.4 million hectolitres in the same year. The glass bottle segment in particular will benefit from this.


Regulation is Becoming More Concrete

Political regulations are also becoming increasingly noticeable in the packaging sector. Plastics, for example, are being regulated more and more strictly and the French government has announced further measures. Already in December 2020, a law was passed banning all single-use plastic products and packaging after 2040, and initiatives have been launched to promote reuse and recycling.

The French Environmental Code and the Circular Economy Act provide the legal basis for waste prevention and waste management. Companies are obliged to consume responsibly, extend the life of products and promote reuse and recycling. Non-compliance carries the threat of fines. The tightening of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) in France provides stricter rules for waste management, with a focus on eco-design and recycling. Manufacturers, importers and exporters are required to facilitate waste management and meet recycling targets, with fines or bans for non-compliance. By 2030, companies that place more than 10,000 product units on the market annually and report a turnover of more than 10 million euros must ensure that their waste is recyclable.

With a recycling rate of 60.3 percent, France is slightly below the EU-27 average (64 percent). The company Citeo estimates that recycling packaging could avoid 1.6 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in 2020. Since then, sorting rules for households have been simplified to facilitate collection and subsequent recycling.

Lighter packaging types in particular have benefited from these framework conditions, as their use initially makes it easy to reduce the amount of packaging. Many manufacturers have also switched to fibre-based materials. Although paper and cardboard production accounts for 65.8 percent of French packaging production, the country will import 5.08 million tonnes of paper and cardboard in 2021, according to COPACEL. This indicates that players are focusing on paper-based flexible packaging to significantly reduce the use of plastic.

The influence of the French government on the packaging market should not be underestimated, as it sets the framework for the development of the industry through laws and regulations. The emphasis on circular economy and recycling shows the will not only to reduce environmental impact but also to promote a more sustainable economy. This brings challenges, but also new opportunities.