France’s economy has one of the world’s largest GDPs, and the French packaging market is among the largest, most attractive and mature in the world due to its size and the level of demand from domestic consumption.

As a country famous for fine food and wine the sector is unsurprisingly driven by key end-user sectors such as processed food, tourism and wine. As a result France’s packaging industry is expected to record a relatively low rate of growth during the 2010-15 forecast period.

The industry’s paper and board packaging category has reached maturity and growth is expected to slow during the forecast period, while the glass packaging category has shown negative growth over the last few years. The only packaging categories experiencing positive growth are rigid plastic packaging and flexible plastic packaging.

“The French wine industry has declined, leading to considerable losses for the glass packaging industry.”

Glass and the big green push

In the past few years, the market for French wine has declined, leading to considerable losses for the industry. Wine manufacturers are taking measures to overcome this crisis, but the market for French wine is expected to decline further. As a significant end-user of glass packaging, the decline in the fortunes of the French wine industry has adversely affected the country’s glass packaging industry.

A huge demand for more environmentally friendly packaging options is also making its mark on the industry. Consumer packaging is changing rapidly as a result, as new materials and product sizes become available. The biggest change is the rush to achieve sustainable manufacturing and produce biodegradable goods. Growing environmental concerns and more stringent legislation is influencing the packaging choices of end users, and French packaging manufacturers are increasing the percentages of recycled content in their production.

Imports: machinery

The volume of French foreign trade is considered one of the largest in the world. The country ranked sixth worldwide in terms of exports and fifth worldwide for imports in 2009. France’s main packaging industry trade partners include Germany, Italy, the UK, Belgium, Spain, Netherlands and the US.

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France demands sophisticated packaging machinery to meet its need for high-end packaging solutions. The main end-user markets for packaging equipment are food and beverages and pharmaceuticals. Domestic manufacturers meet just over one third of the total domestic demand for packaging, with the remaining demand met by imports from countries such as Germany, Italy, the US and Canada.

Variable dynamics

The dynamics of the French packaging industry are variable.

“France ranked sixth worldwide in terms of exports and fifth worldwide for imports in 2009. “

The paper and board category is highly fragmented, the plastic packaging category is moderately fragmented and the glass packaging category is highly consolidated, with only nine glass packaging manufacturers operating in the market. The barriers to entry into the glass packaging category are high due to the highly unattractive market condition. With environmental packaging a concern as well as changing user perceptions in the wine industry in particular the market is due a shift in attitudes, whether this will result in major change or a period of unsettled market behaviour remains to be seen.

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