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“This will inevitably impact selling prices for the consumer”

The ban on plastic packaging is not well received by the sector

As of January 1st 2022, fruit and vegetables can no longer be sold in plastic packaging, with a few exceptions. For Jean-François Not, president of the Ille-Fruits cooperative, the decree of Tuesday October 12th was “published without any consultation.”

Jean-François Not denounces a decree elaborated without consultation with professionals from the sector. He predicts higher production costs from January already. “Extra costs of 0.20 to 0.30€ [0.23 to 0.35 USD] for 1 kilo of peaches for example. We are not ready. Some of our packing machines are not ready.” An opinion shared by Jacques Rouchaussé, president of Vegetable Producers of France, who estimates that the sector cannot be fully ready until 2025. “I think we’ve put the cart before the horse. We always want to be first but this will be a real headache and it will penalize our French companies.”

“The fruit and vegetable sector only uses 1.5% of the plastic consumption in France”
Same complaint from FDSEA. “This decree is being pushed on us without any consultation. An entire profession is pointed at, while the fruit and vegetable sector only uses 1.5% of the plastic consumption in France. We all want to make efforts to limit the use of these materials, but this decree is being pushed on us without even knowing which technically possible and economically viable alternative solutions we will be able to use,” explains Bruno Vila. 

Cardboard more expensive than plastic
“The fruit and vegetables presented in trays of less than 1.5 kg, those targeted by the decree, are low-priced products found on supermarket shelves. Cardboard packaging is twice as expensive as plastic. This will inevitably impact selling prices for the consumer. Not to mention the problem of humid products that cannot be kept in certain biosourced packaging. We now have one winter to think about how to be ready for the start of the stone fruit season next spring,” explains François Bes, manager of the Ille-Fruits cooperative. 

“Either the price will go up, or producers will lower their margins. In this case, it will be the second option,” explains the president of the Ille-Fruits cooperative, who regrets that the French government targets the fruit and vegetable sector. “We are not the ones who consume the most plastic.” 

Cardboard packaging has lost its attractiveness
Bruno Vila also estimates a loss of 30% in sales for the fruit and vegetables packed in cardboard, not to mention a possible shortage of this type of packaging in the next 6 months.

According to Olivier Dauvers, a journalist specialized in mass retail, “plastic has a major disadvantage, the fact that it is bad for the environment. But it also has an advantage, as it allows consumers to see what they are buying. Using cardboard packaging makes the products less visible, and therefore less attractive. So the risk is that sales levels will go down in the short term, just because the products will be less visible.”

Updating the packaging lines
Producers will also have to change their packaging lines. “They will have to change all the installations currently used to pack our products,” explains Vitor Dacruz of the Ille-Roussillon cooperative in Thuir. We are promised various kinds of aid, but this will never compensate for what we will need to spend in order to change our equipment.”


Photo: Pascal Sittler/Réa

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