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French Wine Exports Reach Record Highs

French Wine Exports Reach Record Highs
The Asian market plus healthy premium-wine sales see French wine industry hit new heights.

The value of French wine exports hit a record high in 2012 – thanks to buoyant luxury-wine sales and strong demand from Asian markets – and they have continued to rise this year.

According to official figures released by French Customs, exports of French wine, excluding Champagne, reached 5.6 billion euros ($7.7bn) in 2012. The record total showed the market had recovered after a sharp fall in sales in 2009 caused by the global economic downturn.

As part of that recovery, exports increased by 9 percent in value year-on-year between 2009 and 2012. Sales of French wines and spirits have continued to rise in the first half of 2013, with a combined turnover of 5.1 billion euros ($7bn) – an increase of 14 percent compared to the same period in 2012, according to the Federation of Wine & Spirit Exporters (FEVS).

The record numbers, says French Customs, are the result of strong sales in the premium sector (wines priced at 20 euros/$27) per liter, combined with a rise in the sales volumes of mid-range wines selling at between 2 and 20 euros per liter.

However, volumes dipped slightly in 2012 and into 2013 – a move attributed to "the small French harvest last year [2012] due to unfavorable weather," the Customs document added.

While half of France’s wine is sold in Europe, Asian markets have played a large role in the recent export growth. Between 2009 and 2012, exports to Asia grew by 30 percent annually compared with 6 percent growth in Europe. In 2012, Asia accounted for 27 percent of total wine sales, compared to just 17 percent in 2009.

China, including Hong Kong, is the largest Asian customer for French wine and is continually trading up: in 2009, high-end wine represented 27 percent of wines sold to China; today, that figure stands at 41 percent. 

Volumes shipped to China doubled in the past four years, making it the second-biggest export destination for French wines. France's number one export market remains the U.K.

America and Canada combined account for 18 percent of all French exports by value.

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