As of the year 2020 and beyond, the global cardboard packaging market is on a trajectory of growth, where the sector is anticipated to continue its steady expansion. The market, which was valued at over $100 billion in 2020, up from $87 billion, further underscores the enduring relevance and demand for cardboard packaging solutions. In the European context, corrugated cardboard continues to dominate the market, especially due to its sustainability credentials, with countries like Germany and France being key producers within the EU. The demand for cardboard packaging is propelled not only by its eco-friendly appeal but also by burgeoning e-commerce, which comprises 4-5% of the market share for corrugated board and represents a critical growth driver for the industry.

With the sector maintaining a high recycling rate of around 93% in France, and a majority of packaging using recycled material, the industry is aligning well with circular economy principles. This is complemented by regulatory measures, such as the CFQ label, which ensures quality and environmental compliance. Key players such as Smurfit Kappa, Saica, DS Smith, and International Paper, hold prominent positions in the market, indicative of a competitive landscape where innovation and technological advancements are imperative for maintaining market share.

Dynamic Trends in the French Cardboard Packaging Market

The French cardboard packaging market has experienced steady and dynamic growth, reflecting an increase in demand for sustainable and versatile packaging solutions. Corrugated cardboard, particularly favored for its eco-friendly attributes and adaptability, has become the preferred material for packaging before items are placed on store shelves and during the transportation of goods. A notable expansion has been witnessed, with production values rising from between 4.2 and 4.4 billion euros to between 4.5 and 4.6 billion euros. This steady growth signifies a compounded annual growth rate of approximately 1.37%, indicating a resilient market.

The French cardboard industry further showcased its strength with a turnover increase of nearly 6% compared to the previous year, reaching a total of around 3 billion euros, even though there was a slight decrease in production volume by about 0.6%. The demand for cardboard and paper packaging continues to intensify in France, with the proportion of cardboard and paper production destined for packaging climbing from 45% to around 55 to 60% within a 15-year span. Not only does this highlight the shifting preferences towards cardboard over other materials, but it also underscores the decreasing reliance on graphic uses, which saw a drop of almost 20%. Corrugated packaging sales dramatically lean towards its use as packaging, accounting for approximately 80% of the total sales in France.

The agro-food sector emerges as the top consumer of corrugated cardboard packaging, absorbing over half of the production for this purpose. Further reinforcing this trend is the fact that the French food industry heavily relies on corrugated cardboard for product presentation, particularly in fruit and vegetable aisles, emphasizing its positive impact on consumer behavior.

Recycling also plays a critical role in the demand for cardboard packaging. France champions the utilization of recycled paper and cardboard, with 76% of the national recycled material going into cardboard packaging, dwarfing the second-highest sector at around 17%. This dedication to recycling is mirrored in the industry's practices, where close to 9 out of 10 packages are recycled, and the average integration of recycled material in packaging stands at 80%. The surge in e-commerce has further influenced the demand for cardboard packaging in France.

The burgeoning e-commerce sector, responsible for around 1.5 billion transactions, has sparked an over 20% year-over-year growth in parcel shipments, the bulk of which are contained in corrugated cardboard.

Key Players in the Cardboard Packaging Industry: Sustainable Solutions Leaders

In the cardboard packaging market, several companies stand out for their significant impact and leadership in providing sustainable packaging solutions. These corporations not only have substantial market presence but have also demonstrated a commitment to innovation and environmental stewardship.

Pioneers of Corrugated Cardboard Packaging

  • Smurfit Kappa is a titan in the corrugated packaging sector, with a global footprint spanning numerous countries. Known for its extensive portfolio of paper-based packaging, Smurfit Kappa also invests heavily in research to deliver more sustainable and efficient packaging solutions.
  • Saica is another key player with a robust presence in the European market. It specializes in the manufacture of corrugated packaging as well as paper production for packaging use. Saica's focus on circular economy practices has made it a notable example within the industry for its environmental commitment.
  • DS Smith has established itself as a leader in sustainable packaging solutions. Offering a wide range of corrugated packaging options, DS Smith caters to various market sectors, and its emphasis on innovation is evident through its development of recyclable packaging and reduction strategies for packaging waste.
  • International Paper commands attention as a heavyweight in the paper and packaging industry worldwide. Its vast array of products and services in the paper packaging division includes corrugated packaging that serves customers on a vast scale. As a steward of sustainable practices, International Paper continues to make strides in responsible sourcing and efficient manufacturing processes.

Specialists in Custom and Boutique Cardboard Packaging

  • Mizenboite may not have the size of some of its competitors, but it certainly makes a significant contribution to the market with its tailored cardboard packaging solutions. This company offers bespoke services for clients who require specific, customized packaging for their unique products.
  • BBA Packaging rounds out the list with its specialized offerings in cardboard packaging. Known for its expertise in creating packaging solutions that respect the environment while addressing the protective needs of the products, BBA Packaging provides a critical link between the raw materials and the diverse applications in industries that require the use of cardboard packaging.

These companies collectively are shaping the future of the cardboard packaging industry, not only through their size and scope but also through their commitment to sustainability and customer-focused innovation. As the market continues to grow, their respective roles in advancing circular economy principles and meeting the evolving needs of both businesses and consumers will undoubtedly be central to their continued success and

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and scope of study

The cardboard packaging market covers the entire cardboard packaging sector. It is used for the transport of objects and/or the storage of materials and products in warehouses and stores. There are different types of cardboard packaging, but corrugated cardboard remains the packaging preferred by consumers before being put into stores and for the transport of goods. Cardboard packaging can be recycled to produce paper or corrugated cardboard, making it a sustainable and preferred packaging alternative to plastic packaging.

The carton packaging market is growing steadily at around 6% per annum until 2017, and future forecasts are rather positive. Moreover, the global market for carton packaging is expected to reach more than 100 billion dollars in 2020 against 87 billion in 2014: this shows that the growth is global. In France, cardboard represents more than a third of the global packaging industry.

The carton packaging market is dominated by the world's leading packaging companies, leaving little room for new entrants. Players in the carton packaging market are faced with the need to invest in new technologies that offer more colours and finishes. The main challenge in the carton packaging market remains recycling, in an environment that is conducive to the circular economy.


List of charts

  • Principaux pays producteurs de cartons et boîtes en carton et en carton ondulé
  • Valeur de la production de cartons et boîtes en carton et carton ondulé
  • Vente dans le monde de carton ondulé
  • Répartition de la production de papiers et cartons par sorte
  • Destination des emballages en carton ondulé
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Latest news

Saica invites itself to Pacapime - 28/08/2023
  • Saica has taken a minority stake in Pacapime, a Belgian company founded in 1919 and based in Halle, Belgium, since 1952.
  • Pacapime generates 80% of its sales in corrugated packaging for food products.
  • Pacapime has sales of 61 million euros.
  • Pacapime's production will reach 82 million m² by 2022.
  • Pacapime has owned 50% of Dutch LC Packaging since 2003.
  • LC Packaging has a commercial presence in France.
  • Pacapime has 109 employees and serves mainly the Benelux countries, but also France and Germany.
Reorganization of Barry-Wehmiller subsidiaries - 11/08/2023
  • Barry-Wehmiller is a world leader in the construction of packaging machinery.
  • Accraply, a Barry-Wehmiller subsidiary, specializes in labeling machines and includes the Harland, Trine and Graham & Sleevit brands. Accraply was recently renamed BW Labeling.
  • BW Labeling is part of BW Integrated Systems, another Barry-Wehmiller division, which offers end-of-line packaging solutions.
  • BW Integrated Systems has nine production sites and 800 employees.
  • It operates in various sectors, including automotive, beverages, food, household and personal care products, and healthcare.
  • BW Packaging, to which BW Integrated Systems belongs, is also a Barry-Wehmiller subsidiary.
  • Other subsidiaries include BW Flexible Systems, Pneumatic Scale Angelus and France's Synerlink.
  • Barry-Wehmiller has sales of $3 billion and 12,000 employees.
Schubert turns to AGVs - 11/08/2023
  • Schubert has taken part in the creation of a joint venture with the start-up Carrybots, specialized in automatically guided vehicles (AGVs).
  • The second partner is Flexlog, a supplier of control components for intralogistics.
  • Carrybots is based in Karlsruhe, Germany.
Vaucanson has relocated puzzle production. - 31/07/2023
  • Cartonnage de Vaucanson sales in 2022: 4.5 million euros
  • Cartonnage de Vaucanson workforce: 24 people
  • Company founded: mid-1930s
  • Packaging for the luxury goods, gaming, cosmetics, spirits and food sectors
  • Since 2016, the company has been part of the Sentosphère group, specialized in the creation and publishing of board games and educational games.
Elopak to produce bricks in the United States - 05/06/2023
  • Norwegian manufacturer of beverage cartons for liquid foods
  • Number of Elopak employees: 2,600
  • Annual packaging output: over 14 billion packs in 11 plants
  • Investment of $50 million to build a plant in the United States
  • North American market for fresh liquids growing by over 40% a year
DS Smith donne un nouvel élan à sa cartonnerie de Durtal - 24/05/2023

Companies quoted in this study

This study contains a complete overview of the companies in the market, with the latest figures and news for each company. :

Smurfit Kappa
DS Smith
International Paper
Europac (DS Smith)
VPK packaging
Cartonneries de Gondardennes
Papeteries et cartonneries Lacaux
Guillin Emballages (Groupe Guillin)
Mayr-Melnhof Karton

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