French paper, board market reached €7.7B in revenue in 2022, with price increases across all grades, increase in production capacity of packaging paper, board, reduction in graphic paper; demand for paper products slowed in H2, remains weak: COPACEL

Sample article from our Pulp & Paper Industry

March 15, 2023 (press release) –

On the occasion of its annual press conference, COPACEL presented the outlook for the paper industry for 2023, in an economic environment marked by the "polycrisis".

What to remember mainly?

  • The paper business was sustained in 2022 (7.7 billion euros in revenue)
  • All families of paper and cardboard experienced an increase in their selling price
  • The industrial tool continued to evolve: increase in the production capacity of packaging paper and cardboard, reduction in the production of graphic paper
  • The year 2022 was marked by a considerable increase in energy and raw material costs
  • After strong demand for paper products observed in the 1 st half of 2022, the economic situation deteriorated in the middle of the year. At the start of 2023, it remains poorly oriented (we observe a reduction in order books)
  • The paper industry calls on the public authorities to put in place measures to avoid the widening of a competitive differential between France and other paper-producing countries (in Europe or outside the EU zone).

Among the measures expected by the paper industry:

  • continued reduction of production taxes
  • reform of the electricity market, to allow consumers to benefit from the French electronic mix (competitive and carbon-free)
  • limitation of conflicts of use between biomass energy and use as a raw material

Full Press Release: 

The juxtaposition of crises did not curb paper activity in 2022, but 2023 is taking shape with a lot of uncertainty
Despite a poly-crisis context, paper activity was buoyant in 2022
2022 was characterized by the intertwining of three crises: an inflationary surge, which is cutting into the purchasing power of households; an unprecedented rise in raw material costs (wood, chemicals, etc.) and soaring energy prices. Despite this economic environment, paper activity was sustained in 2022. Paper and cardboard production, which amounted to 7.1 Mt, is certainly down compared to 2021 (- 3.7%) , but for reasons (stoppages for converting paper machines, technical problems, claims, rationing of certain raw materials, etc.) that are not primarily linked to a fall in demand. In a similar way to what has been observed over the past 20 years, the industrial tool has continued to evolve in order to increase the production capacity of packaging paper and cardboard and reduce that of graphic paper (these markets remain structurally decreasing, even if tensions were high for certain varieties in the first half of the year). In value terms, the turnover of the entire sector (paper, cardboard and market pulp) increased by 31%, to reach 7.7 billion euros, due to the increase in the selling price of all families of paper and board.
A year characterized by hyperinflation of production factors
This marked increase in selling prices was imposed by the need for companies to pass on the considerable increases in the cost of energy and raw materials. Between 2021 and 2022, on an annual average, on extremely volatile wholesale markets, the price of gas has been multiplied by 2 and that of electricity by 2.5. This rise in energy costs has spread throughout the economy, and has greatly increased the cost of raw materials, such as chemicals, the supply of which was also for some very tight at different periods of the year. 'year. Wood prices have also suffered the impact of this rise in energy prices, because the increased demand for "biomass energy" (pellets, etc.) has exacerbated conflicts of use and pushed them up sharply. ligneous raw materials (+41% between 2021 and 2022 for Sawmill Related Products). Only the Paper and Cardboard for Recycling market was spared by this impact of energy costs. Depending on the types of "waste paper", and the balance of supply and demand for each of them, we observe either increases (newspapers and magazines) or declines in prices (cardboard boxes).
Paris, March 14, 2023
 The economic downturn observed at the end of 2022 and confirmed at the start of 2023 makes the coming months very uncertain
After the strong demand for paper products observed in the first half of 2022, the economic situation deteriorated after the summer break and, at the start of 2023, remains poorly oriented. The amplitude of this reduction in order books, even if it varies according to the type, can be analyzed as an “accordion blow” linked to inventory reductions within the client sectors. Beyond this short-term effect, the question that arises is whether this decline in demand is the manifestation of a coming recession in the economy, envisaged in early 2022, and fortunately not observed. Paper products are indeed very dependent on the economic activity of the country (and of the EU, because 55% of production is exported). Even if underlying trends remain buoyant (substitution of plastic packaging by cellulosic products, etc.), a context of recession will weigh on the various drivers of paper consumption (slower growth in online commerce, drop in purchases of products organic ...). Keeping production costs at high levels also leads certain client sectors to limit their demand (decline in printed communication in favor of digital, etc.). Finally, legislative measures (experimentation in favor of "yes-pub", printing of receipts on demand, etc.) will accelerate the switch of certain uses to digital.
This context makes it essential to implement various public policies
In this deteriorating context, the public authorities must be able to put in place measures to avoid the widening of a competitive differential between France and the other paper-producing countries (whether in Europe or outside of the EU zone). In addition to cross-cutting measures (taxation), which we hope will be brought about by the future “green industrialization” law, several priority projects must be opened. For Christian Ribeyrolle, President of COPACEL, “one subject on which we expect a lot from the public authorities is the possibility of benefiting from competitive and carbon-free energy, which notably involves a profound change in the functioning of the electricity market. On the subject of raw materials, we hope that public aid in favor of decarbonization will be done without exacerbating the conflicts between the “raw material” valuation of wood and its energy use. Finally, another important aspect of public policies concerns the implementation of legislation resulting from the European Green Pact. This abundant legislation, even if it pursues objectives that we fully support (reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, preservation of biodiversity, etc.), in addition to problems of implementation, risks weakening the competitiveness of companies”.
Contact presse :
Mrs Ariane GUILLEMIN – Tel. : 06 72 65 04 85 – Email:
COPACEL (Union Française des Industries des Cartons, Papiers et Celluloses) is the trade union representing French companies producing pulp, paper and cardboard. COPACEL brings together 70 companies, employing nearly 11,000 people, and totaling a turnover of nearly 7.7 billion euros.
23, rue d'Aumale +33 (0)1 53 89 24 00 75009 Paris

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