In 2019, the EU-28 glass production reached a volume of 37.2 million tonnes, an increase of 1.8% compared with 2018, which indicates that the market is still in demand of glass articles. Since 2016 the overall European glass industry succeeded to increase or maintain its production level thanks to a revived economy, mainly in the construction sector, car industry, energy, engineering and food services. It is however important to point out that production levels can be deeply impacted by third countries imports into the EU, and mostly those covered by illegal dumping and state aid subsidies.

The European production level still maintains the EU as one of the largest glass producers in the world with China and North America. Germany remains the EU’s biggest producer with about one fifth of the volume, closely followed by France, Spain, Italy and the UK.

 Production evolution until 2019

Regarding foreign trade from third countries, imports from Asian countries, and in particular China, remain big competitors.

Compared with 2018, 2019 extra EU-28 exports remained stable (-0.3%) in volume at 3.13million tonnesand slightly by 0.7% in value with 6.95 bn Euros. The EU-28’s four major clients in volume are the rest of Europe (45.3%), including Switzerland (15.5%), Turkey (7.2%) and Russia (4.1%), followed by the USA (11.4%), North Africa (6.9%) and Far East Asia (8.3%) including China (3.5%).  

 As for extra-EU imports in EU-28, in 2019 they increased in volume by 4.12% (nearly 4.65 million tonnes) and in value by 5.9% (6.74 bn euros) compared with 2018. Far-East Asia accounted for 38% (including 30.7% from China alone), the rest of Europe for 46.7% (including Turkey (14%), Russia (10%), Switzerland (7.7%) & Ukraine (6.2%)), North Africa for 5.6% and the USA for 2.7%.

 External Trade Evolution

Behind these 2019 figures aggregated at the level of the whole glass industry, it is important to realize that the situations are contrasted in the different sectors. Evolutions in production and employment, as well as in the origin of imports into the EU, are very different between glass sectors. The global trend indicates however steadily increasing imports in all glass sectors with rather limited exports.


Production by Sectors:   1) History      2) Details 2019

Although market conditions and consumer confidence were restored since 2015, competition remains intense with non-European glass manufacturers. Investment outside the European borders has materialised and imports are gradually and insidiously increasing, taking bigger EU market shares in all glass sectors.


For 2020, next to the high influence of worldwide context (incl. Brexit, US policies, Chinese competition, etc.), the COVID-19 outbreak crisis will add to the EU stringent climate policies (ETS, Decarbonisation, Green Deal, REACH, Food Contact, etc.) and further impact all EU glass sectors.

One can pre-empt an ever-challenging manufacturing climate when restrictive measures will be gradually lifted to enable a revival of the global economy.

The number of employees stabilized since 2013. Currently, the EU-28 glass industry employs about 186,000 people (incl. processors), showing a stable socio-economic situation.

Employment Evolution and Productivity