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French alcohol continues to flow abroad

Bottles of champagne at Astor Wines & Spirits, New York, August 29, 2016.
Bottles of champagne at Astor Wines & Spirits, New York, August 29, 2016. Drew Angerer / AFP

French wines and spirits are more than ever recipes outside our borders. Witness their new export record. In 2018, for the first time, the bar of 13 billion euros of sales has been crossed, according to figures published by the Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits of France (FEVS), Wednesday, February 13. Total sales amounted to € 13.2 billion, up 2.4%. The balance of trade increased by 1.7% to 11.7 billion euros, consolidating its position as the second largest surplus in the French trade balance.

"Even though the increase in exports is lower than in 2017, with a growth rate of 2.4% against 8% the previous year, we are rather satisfied given the context of slowing economic growth, and trade tensions between China and the United States »explains Antoine Leccia, president of FEVS. "The fundamentals are good"he adds.

Once again, France has demonstrated the strength of its strategy of valuing its wines and spirits. Indeed, this performance was reached while volumes were down 2.7%. Grape harvest of 2017 requires. "Our global market share in volume is 15%, but 30% in value", recalls Mr. Leccia.

Brexit fears

This valuation is particularly popular across the Atlantic. The United States, the leading destination market for wines and spirits (a quarter of exports), continues to play a leading role. Sales reached 3.2 billion euros in 2018, up 4.6%. We understand why the Donald Trump Tweet sent in November, threatening to tax French wines, has thrown a cold.

Brexit fears also led FEVS to raise the alarm in January. It is true that the United Kingdom ranks second in the exporting countries with a turnover of 1.328 billion euros, almost stable. Leccia now wants to put the risk in perspective, highlighting the multi-year relations between France and Great Britain. "We wanted to alert the players of a temporary crisis risk linked to Brexit and encourage them to anticipate, but in the medium to long term, this market will remain important for us", says Leccia.

Read also Brexit: the French agri-food sector on the front line

It also relativizes the decline of 14.4% of exports to China, which approach one billion euros. According to him, it is necessary to take a step back and to include sales in Singapore and Hong Kong, in strong progression, to evaluate the Chinese situation. The whole weighs 2.5 billion euros.

In terms of products, cognac, which is widely acclaimed in the United States, Singapore and China, remains in the lead for sales with a total of 3.123 billion euros (+ 1.7%). Then comes champagne at 2.88 billion euros (+ 2.1%). The success beyond the borders assures the prestigious name a quasi-stability of its turnover in 2018, to a record level of 4.9 billion euros, in spite of the continuation of the erosion of the sales in France, according to the data published by the Champagne Committee. The number of bottles sold is down 1.8% to 302 million.

Article reserved for our subscribers Read also From New York to Shanghai or Johannesburg, the geopolitics of cognac

In the so-called "quiet" wines, that is to say without bubbles, the Bordeaux appellations, keep their length ahead and exceed the 2 billion euro mark of export sales. Followed by Burgundy 903 million euros. To note the strong progression of the wines of Provence, + 14,1%, to 273 million euros. The 2018 harvest, which filled the vats again, bodes well for the future …

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