Summary of our market study

The French pulp market is estimated at around €800 million.

Despite a decline in demand for paper used in printing and publishing due to digitization, other sectors such as e-commerce continue to drive demand for corrugated board for packaging.

With global pulp production at around 181 million tonnes, and European production at 38 million tonnes, the market is going through a period of complex change and adaptation. The global market is worth over $170 billion.

Environmental concerns are driving the industry towards more sustainable practices, with increased use of recycled paper and board (RCB) and the promotion of more environmentally-friendly production methods.

The market is dominated by China, which is the main consumer and strongly influences production and prices worldwide.

In France, the pulp market is experiencing difficulties, with national pulp production representing less than one hundredth of world production and moving towards the recycled pulp sector.french pulp production in 2023 will be around 1.3 million tonnes, and the market value is estimated at around €800 million.

Regulations increasingly favor recycled materials over virgin materials,

Innovations in manufacturing processes are focused on energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact, and there is a trend towards the adoption of ecological certifications such as PEFC and FSC in the sector.

In response to pressure on the plastics industry, paper-based packaging solutions are gaining market share.

Demand trends in the French pulp market

The French pulp market is undergoing radical change, mainly under the influence of changing consumer habits and environmental considerations.

France's national production accounts for less than 2% of the world total, making it a minor player on the global scene.

The decline in the volume and value of production over the last decade highlights the difficulties of the market, with a rapid decrease averaging between 3 and 4% per year in volume and around 2% per year in value.

The packaging sector is the main consumer of paper pulp in France, accounting for over 50% of national consumption, which stands at between 4 and 5 million tonnes. Most of this demand comes from paper and cardboard recycling (PCR), and only a small percentage uses wood-based pulp.

The graphic paper sector, which includes coated and uncoated paper producers, is the second largest consumer, followed by the hygiene paper sector. However, these traditional markets are facing a downward trend due to digitization.

The increase in the number of digital book readers is driving down pulp demand in the publishing industry, with an annual decline of around 4-6%.

The packaging industry, on the other hand, is benefiting from the growth of e-commerce, as online purchases require an increase in packaging materials such as corrugated board.

The pulp market is also undergoing a significant shift towards environmental sustainability. Recycled pulp is gaining in importance, with recycled paper production almost twice that of virgin pulp.

The market is adapting to anti-plastic sentiment, with regulatory changes favoring paper-based packaging solutions over plastic.

Regulations promote more environmentally-friendly operations through certifications such as PEFC and FSC.

Bans on single-use plastics and incentives to use recycled plastics reinforce the pulp and paper industry's ecological responsibility.

Faced with these trends, the French pulp and paper market is mainly segmented into the packaging, graphic paper and toilet paper sectors.

A handful of companies stand out for the important role they play in shaping the market.

  • International Paper - world leader in the paper and pulp industry
  • Smurfit Kappa - This company is another major player
  • The Navigator Company - a leader in the bleached eucalyptus kraft pulp segment.
  • Arauco - a research company providing information on pulp costs in different regions
  • Greenfield - contributes to the market by recycling paper and reinventing it as a raw material for new products.
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Summary and extracts

1 Market summary

1.1 What is pulp?

Pulp (or pulp) is a material produced from plants, such as hemp, wood or flax . It is a raw material used in particular in the production of paper, tissue cardboard and packaging.

The first paper production from pulp was carried out in 1843, the production was gradually increased industrialized with the development of chemical and mechanical processes allowing the extraction of cellulose, and the elimination of lignin - from hard or soft woods.

There are two main types of pulp:

  • Market pulp produced in factories dedicated to the production and sale of pulp
  • The integrated dough produced by industries that use pulp in another process (e. g. graphic paper making)

The pulp market is dependent on the forestry market and the recycling of paper and cardboard. It also provides the raw material for the manufacture of cardboard, packaging, graphic paper, newspapers and handkerchiefs, and its dynamics are therefore highly correlated.

World consumption is driven by the Chinese market. And, if the use of pulp in the world for paper press where publishing is in decline, the pulp market is however dynamic in other segments such as industrial packaging.

The market also has to deal with the environmental challenge by reinventing its production methods and benefits from the increasingly reduced use of plastic.

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Latest news

7 billion merger in paper and packaging - 17/04/2024
  • Agreement for the purchase of DS Smith by International Paper: $7.2 billion.
  • - Percentage of the new entity held by DS Smith shareholders: approximately one third.
  • - DS Smith workforce: over 30,000 employees in 30 countries.
  • - DS Smith sales last year: around $10.2 billion.
  • - International Paper workforce: 39,000 employees in ten countries.
  • - International Paper sales last year: $18.9 billion.
  • - Estimated global pulp and paper market in 2022: $354 billion.
Smurfit WestRock merger on track - 09/12/2023
  • Merger of Smurfit Kappa and WestRock (two cardboard manufacturers) announced on September 12.
  • Cost of operation for Smurfit Kappa: 11 billion dollars.
  • Valuation of the new Smurfit WestRock entity: close to $20 billion.
  • Sales of the new entity based on twelve-month results to June 30: $34 billion.
  • The new entity is the world leader in corrugated board and packaging.
  • Smurfit Kappa shareholders will hold 50.4% of the capital, while WestRock shareholders will hold 49.6%.
  • Smurfit WestRock will operate in 42 countries.
  • The new entity will have 500 cardboard mills and 67 paper mills. It will employ 98,000 people.
180 million plan for paper manufacturer Fibre Excellence Provence - 22/10/2023
  • Fibre Excellence Provence is about to launch a lignin separation unit, which will enable it to produce absorbent pulp for diapers.
  • The plant represents an investment of 80 million euros. By 2025, almost half of Fibre Excellence Provence's production will be devoted to this new product line.
  • It should cover around 10% of national demand for diapers.
  • Fibre Excellence Provence, a company that previously filed for bankruptcy following a fall in packaging paper prices, has sales of 155 million euros.
  • The company was rescued by its shareholder, Asian Pulp and Paper, which assumed 80 million euros of its debts.
  • A five-year, 180-million euro investment plan has been put in place to restructure the company.
General mobilization for Condat paper mills, a former industrial flagship and the Dordogne's largest private employer - 06/09/2023
  • Papeteries de Condat, the largest private employer in the Dordogne, is planning to cut 187 jobs - almost half of the plant's workforce.
  • The Spanish group Lecta, which owns the plant, employs a total of 3,000 people in seven factories across Europe.
  • Lecta posted sales of 1.7 billion euros last year.
  • The graphic paper market, which includes two-sided coated paper, continues to decline by 3% to 5% each year.
  • Since the summer of 2022, this decline has accelerated, with a reduction in volumes of 40%.
  • The Condat plant, founded in 1907, employed 1,200 people in the early 1990s, but now only 380.
  • Three job-saving plans (PSE) have been decided since 2007.
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.
Ahlstrom paper mill in the Meuse region finds a buyer - 26/07/2023
  • The Stenay paper mill employed 130 people.
  • German fund Accursia Capital announced the takeover.
  • The company is positioned in the coated paper market.
  • In 2021, Accursia Capital will also acquire the Cenpa paper mill, which employs 300 people.
  • The Meuse plant produces 55,000 tons of specialty paper a year.

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. :

Sylva bois
Veolia Propreté (Groupe Veolia)
International Paper
Norske Skog
Fibre Excellence (Groupe Paper Excellence)
RDM Group
Wepa Greenfield
Lacroix Emballages Groupe
Smurfit Kappa
Alisay (VPK Packaging)

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