Sustainability in France

France has long been committed to protecting the planet with environment-friendly practices

All in all, France has emerged as a world leader in promoting sustainable practices: The Economist’s Sustainable Tourism Index, which ranks countries based on how they preserve their social, cultural, and environmental capital, recently put France in first place. Meanwhile, according to the Food Sustainability Index, France has maintained its position in first place for food sustainability for the third consecutive year.

If consumers are more and more committed to sustainable development, toys are not their main concern yet

In France, sustainable development is a strongly growing concern and consumers are changing their usage habits. This has even been reinforced with Covid-19 restrictions.

A KidzGlobal research conducted in December 2020 shown that both children and parents are committed towards sustainability. This is perceived as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the planet. As such, the main emotions linked to sustainability for children under 18 years old are interest and desire. 

Coming to daily life and how consumers and shoppers are making choices, the impact is becoming stronger and stronger, but unequally across different products categories. FMCG industry and retailers are the most exposed to consumers’ expectations towards sustainability – but also those who offer the most. Organic ingredients and materials, recycled and recycling-friendly packaging, and local production are the main pillars for promoting environment-friendly products.

The growing toy industry (+1% in total value and +1% in average price per toy) is still broadly led by products imported from China (55% vs 37% from the European Union) and not submitted to the compelling set of criteria defined for sustainability compliance. 

The low share of sustainable toys and games in the French market is driven by a combination of certain factors: a limited range available on market - with only few manufacturers offering sustainable toys, and prices - sustainable toys being more expensive, due to their local production and more expensive high-quality materials which are not compensated by reduced transportation. 

Still according to the KidzGlobal research, this should change in the future, as 74% of French parents declare to be ready to pay more for buying Toys and Games locally made. The effort would go up to a 12% price increase.

France, country of ‘Sophie la Girafe’, the most successful sustainable toy in the world

However, France does have a couple of golden eggs.

The toy capital of the country is located in the Jura mountains and hosts several major manufacturers of sustainable toys. Vilac, JeuJura (1911) and Janod (1970) all offer toys and games made locally from wood out of sustainable forests and natural paint. Their high-quality products are long-lasting and can even been repaired, limiting re-purchases. The main strength of these sustainable toys is that they are timeless and cross-generational: enjoying playing with them is about imagination and interaction.

A second major sustainability trend for toys in France is about the games’ theme itself. More precisely, how to promote sustainability among children by explaining and developing environment-friendly behaviours. Bioviva Editions launched in 1996 and offers products made entirely from recycled and recyclable materials, which are printed with vegetable-based inks. The pawn wood comes from PEFC-certified French forests, and the token bags are made from organic cotton. All the games are made in France and are developed with the goal of creating sustainable habits among players.

But the most famous French player in the market of sustainable toys is definitely Vulli, with ‘Sophie la Girafe’, the well-known 100% natural rubber teething toy, which first came out in 1961 in Paris. Still locally and traditionally produced through a process that involves more than 14 manual operations, the cute wildlife figure has sold over 50 million units around the world. A great example for those who want to explore the sustainable market!

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