“Vive la chimie” - the French Challenge in Chemical Logistics
Dachser Serves Chemical Logistics in France for 10 Years
More than two-thirds of its broadly diversified production portfolio is destined for the export market, which poses a challenge to European logistics networks and their solutions for chemical logistics.
Marie Curie, Henri Moissan, Emmanuelle Charpentier, and more — France’s ten Nobel Prizes in Chemistry to date are a testament to the global significance of the country’s chemical industry. Generating some €74 billion in revenue (2019), France’s chemical industry is second only to Germany’s in Europe and is the fourth largest industrial sector by domestic R&D expenditure. Over the past decade, its annual growth averaged 2.1%.
Chemical products are everywhere in everyday life, especially in the form of soaps and laundry detergents, cosmetics, paints, inks, glues, and adhesives. There are also fine and special chemicals as well as sustainable solutions for the next generations of solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicle batteries. A full 70% of French chemical production is earmarked for the export market, so all signs point to growth and a promising future.
As it grows, France’s chemical industry is seeing a particular benefit from the increasing connectivity of Europe’s groupage transports. Integrated European logistics networks, which can combine standard services with dangerous goods expertise and a strong understanding of the chemical industry’s logistics requirements, play a special role.
Two of our locations in France have already been certified by the strict Safety and Quality Assessment for Sustainability (SQAS), and we can also confirm the trend toward exports. This explains how over the past 10 years, Dachser Chem Logistics was able to increase its revenue in France from €10 million to more than €73 million as of 2019.
One factor amplifying this growth is the increasingly closer cooperation between Germany and France — the number one destination for German chemical exports. The German chemical industry exports goods worth €13.9 billion (2018) to France, accounting for around 7% of German chemical exports. Conversely, Germany imports 7.4% of its chemical products from France, corresponding to a goods value of €10.8 billion.
“Customers want increasingly tailored
products and shorter and shorter delivery times.”
While important hubs of the chemical industry have historically been located along natural traffic arteries — e.g. along the Rhine (Basel, Ludwigshafen, Leverkusen) — a top 100 logistics study by the Fraunhofer Center for Applied Research on Supply Chain Services SCS shows that decisions about future locations will be made differently. More and more, companies are looking for production locations situated away from the traditional centers and closer to the customer. For their part, customers want increasingly tailored products and increasingly shorter delivery times.
Diversified Chemical Industry
Logistics has to be able to provide answers to these challenges, for instance by offering more widely distributed transport flows via their networks. This also benefits all the smaller producers that have no significant logistical resources of their own. A whopping 94% of French chemical companies employ fewer than 250 employees, and primarily these smaller businesses want to achieve synergy effects through clustering in priority regions.
Important sites in the speciality chemicals sector for cosmetics and perfume production are located in Grasse, France. The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is home to industrial and research clusters, and the greater Le Havre area is now the largest site for fertilizer production in Europe and for petrochemicals in France. Other clusters, focused on research and speciality chemicals, are located in the north of the country, in the greater Lille area, and around the capital city.
In other words, France’s chemical industry is broadly diversified and closely linked to the growth markets in Europe via logistics. This is also how the industry will master the new challenges of the coronavirus pandemic. If circumstances call for a reconfiguration of supply chains, then efficient and flexible logistics networks will be in high demand — and that is precisely what Dachser Chem-Logistics offers in France, today and in the future.
Michael Kriegel, Department Head Dachser Chem-Logistics, Dachser SE, Head Office Kempten, Germany