French toast record alcohol exports thanks to cognac and champagne

French wine and spirits exports reached a record €11.7 billion

Champagne and cognac were more popular abroad  than Chanel No 5 and Yves Saint Laurent’s Opium in 2015, after a record year for the French wine and spirits industry.

French exports reached an all-time high of €11.7 billion (£9.16 billion) up 8.7 per cent from 2014, after two years of decline, Federation des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (FEVS), the sector's export federation said on Wednesday. 

Wine and spirits are now ranked second on the list of France’s largest export industries in France with a positive trade balance of €10.4 billion (£8.15 billion), behind the aerospace industry but above perfumes and cosmetics with a value of €9.2billion (£7.21 billion).

The rise mainly came from a 12 per cent jump in champagne and a 20 per cent surge in cognac sales.

Christophe Navarre, FEVS’s chairman who welcomed the result said this represents the equivalent to the price of 126 Airbus

Exports were mainly boosted by a favourable exchange rate. The depreciation of the euro against the dollar, the yen and the pound sterling contributed to the attractiveness of French bottles, according to the FEVS.

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The US remained France’s largest market accounting for 22 per cent of French wine and spirits exports at €2.6 billion, a rise of more than 28 per cent from 2015. The UK ranked second accounting for nearly 12 per cent of the French exports at €1.4 billion up 5.1 per cent from the previous year.

Sales in China, the fourth most popular destination for French wines and spirits exports by value, grew by 23 per cent after two difficult years due to a frugality drive.

But Navarre said that industry should stay “cautious” despite the good results.

Navarre warned that a continuing decrease in volume for exports was a real “weakness” of the industry.

Overall wine shipments fell by 3.6 per cent by volume due to a drop in still wine supplies.

Over the past 15 years French wine's market share in international trade has been cut by nearly half by volume, FEVS said.

For French companies and products to continue to succeed in exports, we have to solve our structural deficit of availability and speed up the opening of the markets now more than ever,” he said.

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