The French knife and cutlery market has experienced a rebound since the initial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when the sector saw a decline in sales by 6.94% due to closures in the hospitality sector. By 2021, sales resumed an upward trend, growing by 20%, demonstrating the sector's resilience. Despite the challenges of a trade deficit, particularly with China, which accounts for 70% of French cutlery imports, French manufacturers have been focusing on differentiation and moving upmarket.

In 2022, the French cutlery market was estimated to be worth 660 million euros, with 113 companies employing around 1,600 people and generating €278 million in sales – an increase of 13% compared to 2018. Internationally, the knife market was valued at $5.2 billion in 2022 and is forecasted to grow to $7.3 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 5.75%, indicating a growing demand in sectors requiring knives. Notably, French exports are predominantly directed to European countries, showcasing the appreciation for the "Made in France" brand in international markets.

French Cutlery Market: An Analysis of Recent Trends and Consumer Demand

In recent times, the French cutlery market has demonstrated a vibrant and dynamic character, despite facing competition from imported goods primarily from Asian markets. Valued at approximately 660 million euros, the French cutlery sector is defined by its deep-seated tradition and global reputation for quality and craftsmanship. A significant portion of the production - nearly 75% - is concentrated among about 20 manufacturers, showcasing a somewhat concentrated industry structure. Brands such as Opinel and Laguiole are notable players, possessing strong heritage and international acclaim.

French cutlery is distinguished not only through design and quality but also through a strategic move to upscale and invest in research and development. The domestic market comprises over a hundred companies and numerous skilled craftsmen, together employing around 1,600 individuals. Despite facing a workforce halved over the past four decades, French cutlery has regained momentum, evidenced by a sales increase in 2021 by around 20% from the previous year.

The consumption trends within the French cutlery market vary by product type. Dish knives, pocket knives, hunting or military knives, and kitchen knives cater to diverse consumer needs and preferences. Price, aesthetics, and quality emerge as significant decision-making factors, with tableware purchases being largely pre-meditated rather than impulsive.

Interestingly, the demand for cutlery in France shows a cyclical pattern, with a notable slump from January to May, a peak in June, and then another slump in July. A consistent recovery is observed from September to December. This cyclical trend has remained relatively unaffected even during the COVID-19 crisis, with only the months of lockdown showcasing a significant dip in sales.

Among the preferred products, consumers lean towards a mix of practicality and aesthetic appeal in their choices. High-end pocket knives enjoy popularity abroad, signaling the international appeal of "Made in France" cutlery, with a fair share of sales being attributed to the European Union and other foreign markets.

Distribution channels reveal a preference towards retailers and supermarkets, although online sales have been slow to grow. The e-commerce segment constitutes just under 10% of sales, hinting at an opportunity for growth in the digital landscape. In sum, the French cutlery market between 15 and 20 million euros remains resilient and highly regarded for its history and quality, facing both challenges and opportunities in the face of global competition and a changing consumer landscape.

Prominent Pioneers in French Cutlery: An Overview of Esteemed Brands

The French cutlery market boasts a rich heritage with several prestigious companies that have made a significant mark on the industry, both domestically and internationally. Renowned for their craftsmanship, innovation, and commitment to quality, these brands epitomize the essence of traditional and modern knife-making excellence.

Opinel: Founded in 1890, Opinel is synonymous with French pocket knives, distinguished by their simple, yet efficient design and the iconic Virobloc safety ring. A staple in households and outdoors kits, Opinel knives are celebrated for their versatility and reliability, making them a cherished tool for both casual and professional users.

Laguiole: The name Laguiole denotes a style of knife that is integral to French culture, with its distinct bee emblem and elegantly curved handle. Although not a brand per se, multiple manufacturers produce Laguiole-style knives, each adding their unique flair to these much-coveted pieces, which are often handcrafted and incorporate materials like horn and wood.

Lion Sabatier: A key player in the high-end kitchen knife market, Lion Sabatier has established itself as a brand of professional-grade cutlery. Favored by chefs for their precision and balance, Sabatier knives reflect a combination of traditional know-how and modern technological advancement.

Thiers-Issard: With a history that dates back to the 19th century, Thiers-Issard is renowned for its attention to detail and masterful use of high-quality carbon steel. They specialize in straight razors and kitchen knives, each a testament to French cutlery artisanship.

Perceval: Esteemed for their exquisite workmanship, Perceval is regarded as a luxury knife brand crafting professionally designed kitchen and table knives. They blend traditional techniques with contemporary aesthetics, striving for perfection in every blade.

Le Fidèle: This brand is a reflection of the enduring quality and loyalty customers have come to expect from its knives. Specializing in pocket knives, Le fidèle combines practicality with classic design, resulting in elegant and reliable companions for daily use.

Fontenille Pataud: A name that exudes luxury and precision, Fontenille Pataud crafts high-end pocket knives that are as much a work of art as they are a cutting tool. With meticulous attention to detail, each knife showcases the finesse and skill of their master.

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Summary and extracts

1 Market overview

1.1 Definition and presentation

The knife is a kitchen utensil designed for cutting food and cooking. The knife and cutlery market in France refers to economic activity relating to the production and sale of kitchen and table knives, but also knives for other uses such as hunting and butchery. the French cutlery network is highly developed and even renowned on the international scene: there is a particular tradition of French cutlery and even a cartography of regional knives.

In the cutlery sector in 2022, over 70% of French exports are destined for European countries (with Germany at 19% of the total, Italy at 16% and Spain at 10%), while the majority of imports come from China (70% of total imports).

In 40 years, from 1980 to 2018, the French industry's workforce has been halved, as a result of competition from Asia and especially China. However, in recent years, French companies have been able to bounce back, thanks in particular to investment in R&D , a move upmarket and improved product design.

According to figures from the French Cutlery Federation, French knife production is concentrated among 20 manufacturers, who share around 75% of the country's total sales. These include such influential brands as Opinel, Laguiole, Lion Sabatier, Thiers-Issard, Perceval, Le fidèle and Fontenille Pataud.

In 2020, the health crisis linked to Covid-19 had a negative impact on the cutlery sector in France, with sales down bysales were down 6.94% on the previous year, as was the tableware sector (-7% over the same period). This is directly linked to closures in the CHR (Cafés, Hôtels, Restaurants) sector. However, by 2021, sales have resumed their upward trend of +20%, testifying to the sector's dynamism. In 2023, French cutlery sales rose by 8.1%.

1.2 The global cutlery market: current situation and main characteristics

International market size:

The international knife market has been estimated for the year **** at $*.* billion. With an estimated CAGR of *.**% for the period ****-****, this market is growing and should reach a value of $*.* billion in ****. The global market is driven in particular by growth projections in the real estate, industrial ...

1.3 The national cutlery market

The French cutlery market is estimated to be worth *** million euros in ****, according to the Observatoire paritaire de la Métalurgie.

In France, there will be *** cutlery companies in ****, more than *,*** cutlery craftsmen and some ** specialized subcontractors, reports the Observatoire paritaire de la Métalurgie.

These *** companies account for *,*** jobs and ...

1.4 A trade deficit in cutlery

evolution of the French cutlery trade balance:

Between **** and ****, the French cutlery trade balance deteriorated (***). A more detailed analysis of French cutlery imports and exports shows that this deficit is largely due to China, which alone accounts for **% of French imports in ****, whereas China is only the *th destination for French ...

2 Demand analysis

2.1 Knife demand: consumer typology

The demand for knives in France can be broken down into * sub-sectors, depending on the purpose for which the knife is used. A distinction is made between dish knives, pocket knives, hunting or military knives, and kitchen knives.

Consumer typology :

Dishwasher knife consumer: To analyze the purchasing behavior of dishware knife ...

2.2 Cyclical demand :

The graph below shows that demand for cutlery is cyclical. The three sales figures for ****, **** and ****, expressed relative to **** translated at base ***, follow the same cyclical trends.

Trend in domestic and export sales - Cutlery manufacturing (***) France, ****, **** ,****, Base *** year **** INSEE

Averaging the sales indices of cutlery manufacturers for the years **** to ...

2.3 Some of the products consumers prefer :

The following table lists the top * bestsellers in France on Amazon for the most common knife categories:

2.4 Changing consumer trends

Knife demand is driven by several trends, which have both positive and negative effects on cutlery consumption.

Changes in French interest in tableware:The modernization of French society has led to a change in the way the French perceive their interest in table service. If it is no longer necessary for ...

3 Market structure

3.1 Cutlery production value chain :

3.2 Knife and cutlery production in France

Knife making from raw materials to production:

To make a knife, craftsmen and manufacturers first need raw materials. These are mainly wood, needed to make the handle, and steel, needed to make the blade. Steel can be forged in-house from alloys of iron and other metals, or purchased directly from steel ...

3.3 Cutlery distribution in France

A sales organization largely organized around distributors:

An analysis of the sales of the *** largest cutlery manufacturers in France reveals the following breakdown:

Breakdown of sales by customer type for cutlery manufacturers France, ****, in % of sales Observatoire paritaire de la métallurgie

We can thus see that the cutlery distribution methods ...

4 Offer analysis

4.1 Knife and cutlery offer typology

The cutlery market includes several sub-categories of knives that can be divided as follows:

-Kitchen / professional knives.

-Knives used as tableware

-Hunting / military knives.

-Pocket knives.

Each of these types has a different end use. While butcher's and kitchen knives are intended for professional use, hunting and military knives are more ...

4.2 Rising production costs since January 2021

Cutlery market production costs :

Evolution of the French industry's production price index for all markets - Article de Coutellerie - (***) France, ****-****, base *** February **** INSEE

Between **** and ****, there is a trend towards a slight increase in production costs for the cutlery market. However, this increase in production costs is stable. There ...

4.3 Trends in cutlery supply :

Pocket knife customization: It is becoming increasingly common for cutlers to offer a range of customizable knives. Consumers like this type of personalization, as it enables them to obtain an object that is unique and close to their tastes. The Le Coq Français brand, for example, offers customization of its ...

5 Regulations

5.1 Legal regulations and industry standards.

General knife regulations:

Knives, as edged weapons, are considered by the Internal Security Code as weapons belonging to category D of the Internal Security Code.

As a result, their acquisition and use are regulated according to the following main criteria:

-You must be of legal age to own this type of ...

List of charts

  • Main cutlery exporting countries for code 8211
  • Main cutlery importing countries for code 8211
  • Projected growth in value for the international cutlery market
  • French trade balance in cutlery (Code 8211)
  • Main origin of French cutlery imports.
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Latest news

Opinel expands its plant in Chambéry - 04/03/2024
  • - Sales have quadrupled in fifteen years.
  • - Sales forecast: 38 million euros in 2023.
  • - Export share of sales: 45%.
  • - Planned investments: around ten million euros by 2030.
  • - Production capacity: 6.5 million units per year.
  • - Number of employees: 150.
Knifemaker Opinel to expand its site in Savoie - 13/12/2023
  • Opinel has doubled its land area thanks to the acquisition of almost two hectares of land.
  • The company has been wholly owned by the Opinel family since its creation.
  • 45% of the company's business is exported.
  • Sales have quadrupled in 15 years, and should reach 38 million euros this year.
  • Opinel produces over 6.5 million units a year and employs 150 people.
  • The company has around 400 products in its range, and is planning to launch a new barbecue activity.
Opinel expands its Chambéry plant | Opinel expands its Chambéry plant - 22/11/2023
  • The Opinel brand has acquired a 2-hectare plot of land next to its current factory
  • The company's land area will almost double from 2.5 hectares to 4.5 hectares.
  • Total investment in the future manufacturing facility is estimated at over 10 million euros
  • The company's sales have almost quadrupled in fifteen years, and should reach 38 million euros in 2023, compared with 26 million in 2019.
  • 45% of the company's business comes from exports, with sales in 70 countries on five continents.
  • A distribution subsidiary was opened in the United States in 2016. The company has 155 employees.

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. :

Forge de Laguiole
Zwilling Staub

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