Packaging Retail

France Takes the Lead in Bulk Sales

Controlling the quantities and the budget, reducing packaging and consuming local and seasonal products: bulk sales have captured the spirit and conquer consumers in France, even if it is still a market niche.

France in front of its European counterparts

Getting supplies from a bulk grocery store is ” one of my New Year’s resolutions “: ” I became a vegan last year and I realized that it was logical to make zero waste “, told AFP Nolween Delage, 25-year-old graphic designer and client of La Recharge in Bordeaux.

This grocery store has reintroduced the deposit system with the aim of working on a short circuit with local producers, explained to AFP its co-manager, Jules Rivet, whose clientele has quadrupled in four years.

A figure that does not surprise Célia Rennesson, CEO of Réseau Vrac, the organization that brings together 600 players in the sector: ” in fact and in figures,”, she underlines to AFP.

Thus, of 15 grocery stores specializing in bulk a few years ago, France now has 200, far ahead of Belgium, Germany and Great Britain. And according to the Credoc ( Research center for the study and observation of living conditions ), 47% of French people bought bulk food products at least once in 2018, compared to 32% in 1998.

Why is it so successful for bulk sales?

For Mrs. Rennesson, several reasons explain this success: ” the food trade, of proximity, is clearly registered in the French DNA; we have taken habits of bulk in the organic stores like Biocoop; and finally the movement ‘ zero waste ‘is deeply rooted in France “.

Literally, ” the bulk is the sale of products by weighing, therefore by weight, and not prepackaged “, knowing that food accounts for 80% of the supply, the rest being hygiene / beauty, underlines Mrs. Rennesson.

If bulk is experiencing such a development, it is because customers ” are careful about what they consume, they want more transparency, healthy and organic, and they are attached to the origin and the traceability of the products they buy, “she said.

The success is such that large retailers have started: Franprix (Casino group) has thus equipped, in just six months, at least 150 of its stores with bulk shelves.

And with the idea of ​​reducing packaging, Carrefour has just launched its “Bring your container” operation, authorizing its customers to bring their boxes or jars so that ” the products of the stands for assisted sale ” are served : fishmonger, butcher’s shop , cold meats, cheese and pastry.

For Didier Onraita, president of “Day by day”, the first network in the sector with its fifty points of sale, ” there is not really a typical portrait of the bulk consumer “.

” There are the ‘committed-pragmatic’, very concerned with environmental impacts and who seek to control quantities and prices, then the curious, in search of personal benefit, and finally the hurried, who come to seek products of nibbling “, he explains to AFP.

” When we started in 2013, it was an endangered consumer habit that had not found its economic model, ” notes this connoisseur of the sector.

Today, “by providing a complete response, we have recreated a market dynamic, present on all distribution channels, “he rejoices.

“We must increase the number of products sold in bulk”

However, despite the development of the grocery store network, only a minority (less than 1% of the population) have so far been regularly involved in this movement.

For Ms. Rennesson, ” if we want to change things, if we want it to have an impact in terms of reducing food waste and packaging, we must increase the number of products sold in bulk and offer an offer within 10 minutes from home “.

But beware, warns Jules Rivet, “it has to be consistent: making industrial bulk or coming from the end of the world, what does it rhyme? “.



Published on

Les Français de plus en plus friands de la vente en vrac



  • Bulk Sales have the consequence that SUP packaging is replaced by paper, glass and reusable plastic containers.
  • The biggest winner is the paper sector because the bulk sales area always provide free paper bags to customers. The biggest looser is the plastic sector as most of these products were packed in plastics before the bulk sales happened.
  • Bulk sales is increasing in Belgium also. Retailers seem to be able to switch fast to bulk sales.
  • Plastics packaging are considered as devil in the mind of the younger generations.
  • My personal experience. In less than one month time in my neighbourhood:…. a new super market opened selling only bulk sales and a Carrefour supermarket added a bulk sales area.


%d bloggers like this: