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Santé! France enjoys record year for wine and spirits exports

French exports of wine and spirits jumped by more than a billion euros last year to strike a record level, driven by a surge in sales of cognac, a trade body said Wednesday.

Santé! France enjoys record year for wine and spirits exports
Photo: AFP
The number of 12-bottle cases shipped abroad rose by 5 percent to 198.6 million, while in terms of value exports climbed by 8.5 percent to 12.9  billion euros ($15.9 billion), according to data from the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS).
   
Exports of cognac led the growth, climbing by 8.7 percent in volume and 10.8 percent in value.
   
Exports of wine also perked up in 2017, having been held in check the previous four years due to fierce price competition, rising by six percent in volume and 9.6 percent in value.
   
While exports to fellow EU members returned to growth last year, but most of the expansion was due to sales further afield, in particular North America and Asia.
   
Shipments to the United States climbed by 10 percent to over three billion euros, making it the top export market for French wine and spirits.
   
Exports to China shot 25 percent higher to more than 1.2 billion euros due to the growth of the middle class and urbanisation of the population.

FARMING

Cold snap ‘could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent’

A rare cold snap that froze vineyards across much of France this month could see harvest yields drop by around a third this year, France's national agriculture observatory said on Thursday.

Cold snap 'could slash French wine harvest by 30 percent'
A winemaker checks whether there is life in the buds of his vineyard in Le Landreau, near Nantes in western France, on April 12th, following several nights of frost. Photo: Sebastien SALOM-GOMIS / AFP

Winemakers were forced to light fires and candles among their vines as nighttime temperatures plunged after weeks of unseasonably warm weather that had spurred early budding.

Scores of vulnerable fruit and vegetable orchards were also hit in what Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie called “probably the greatest agricultural catastrophe of the beginning of the 21st century.”

IN PICTURES: French vineyards ablaze in bid to ward off frosts

The government has promised more than €1 billion in aid for destroyed grapes and other crops.

Based on reported losses so far, the damage could result in up to 15 million fewer hectolitres of wine, a drop of 28 to 30 percent from the average yields over the past five years, the FranceAgriMer agency said.

That would represent €1.5 to €2 billion of lost revenue for the sector, Ygor Gibelind, head of the agency’s wine division, said by videoconference.

It would also roughly coincide with the tally from France’s FNSEA agriculture union.

Prime Minister Jean Castex vowed during a visit to damaged fields in southern France last Saturday that the emergency aid would be made available in the coming days to help farmers cope with the “exceptional situation.”

READ ALSO: ‘We’ve lost at least 70,000 bottles’ – French winemakers count the cost of late frosts

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