China tops UK as largest armagnac importer

China tops UK as largest armagnac importer
Photo: Paul Haahr
China has displaced Britain as the world's biggest importer of armagnac following a spectacular surge in sales of the upmarket brandy produced in southwestern France.

The BNIA, an organisation that represents armagnac producers, said Wednesday that sales to China had increased from 125 hectolitres of pure alcohol in 2010 to 935 hectolitres last year.

Sales to Hong Kong nearly doubled, from 292hl in 2010 to 505hl in 2011.

Britain, with 600hl of imports in 2011, remains the second biggest consumer but is set to be overtaken by Russia this year.

BNIA President Rierre Tabarin attributed the growing demand from China to declining consumption of rice wine and to the growth of a new middle class for whom upmarket French products are a status symbol.

Tabarin added that the Chinese market was expanding at an even faster rate in value terms because of the high demand for vintage and rare bottles of armagnac.

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