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Mon, Dec 25, 2006 - Page 10 News List

Exports add extra fizz to French wine industry

AFP , PARIS

French wines and spirits are set to have a record year this year, with exports of cognac, champagne, Bordeaux wines and even vodka projected to bring in 8 billion euros (US$10.5 billion).

"It's a very good result, despite frenetic competition, an unfavorable euro-dollar exchange rate and slow growth in consumption around the world," said Philippe Casteja, president of the French association of wine and spirit exporters (FEVS).

Exports of Bordeaux wines rose 27 percent in value in the first 10 months of the year compared to the same period last year, according to customs office figures recently released by FEVS.

Champagne exports rose 17 percent in the same period, cognac exports went up 12 percent, armagnac exports rose 19 percent, and Burgundy wine exports went up 9.3 percent.

France, not traditionally associated with vodka, also managed to boost its exports in the first 10 months of this year of the drink by a hefty 132 percent. This was largely due to the success of the Grey Goose vodka brand in the US. France exported 320 million euros' worth of the drink in the first 10 months of this year.

The previous record for French wine and spirit exports was 2003, when the country exported 7.8 billion euros' worth of the drinks.

For the first 10 months of this year, it exported 6.99 billion euros' worth of wines and spirits, a rise of 14 percent over the same period last year, according to the customs office figures.

Assuming the trend continues for the last two months of the year, this will take the year's export earnings easily over the 8 billion euro figure.

Britain remains the best customer for French wines and spirits, followed by the US, Germany, Belgium and Japan.

This year is also set to be the second best year ever for exports of French cognac, with just more than 150 million bottles exported.

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