Sun, Jan 01, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Britain’s sparkling wine exports post new record


Britain last year exported sparkling wines to a record number of countries as the industry seeks a 10-fold increase in exports by 2020.

As New Year’s Eve revelers worldwide prepared to raise a glass to see out 2016, the British Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the nation exported sparkling wines to 27 countries last year, up from 19 a year earlier.

Sales of English fizz also boomed domestically, with Marks and Spencer Group PLC doubling sales in its stores.

“With major producers on track to deliver a 10-fold increase in exports, we could soon be tapping into more countries,” UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Andrea Leadsom said in an e-mailed statement. “Our vintners are set for huge success in 2017 with wineries growing and more bottles on supermarket shelves.”

British winemakers are seeking to increase exports to 2.5 million bottles by 2020 from 250,000 bottles in 2015. Sparkling wines, grown mainly in Kent and Sussex, counties in southeast England which have similar chalky soils to France’s Champagne region, account for about 70 percent of production.

Taiwan, the US, Japan and Dubai bought British wine alongside France and Italy, Defra said.

The boom in domestic sales also suggests British customers might be able to tap domestic wines to replace imports from the EU if they are made more expensive by Britain’s plan to leave the bloc.

Sparkling wines were dragged into the Brexit debate when British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told Italian Economic Development Minister Carlo Calenda that Italy will grant Britain access to the EU’s single market after its departure from the bloc “because you don’t want to lose prosecco exports.”

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