Sparkling and spirits boost French wine exports in the first half of 2016


In the first half of 2016, exports of French wines and spirits grew by 1% to €5.3 billion – an historic level. However, these figures hide some major disparities. Spirits (+4% in value) and sparkling wines (+4% in value) drove sales, but falling production in recent years means still wines are in decline (-3% in volume, -2% in value).

Sector boosted by spirits and sparkling wines

Sales of sparkling wines overseas continued to grow both in value (4%) and volume (1.1 billion) in the first half of the year. These figures are down to the excellent health of champagnes and “appellation contrôlée” sparkling wines.

Spirits also saw a 4% increase in value to €1.8 billion, driven by exports of Cognac (+5% in volume and value) and vodka (6% in volume and value). The increased value of exports is particularly remarkable given that these had already risen from 3.49 billion to 3.95 billion between 2014 and 2015 (+13% in value, -4% in volume) in a climate where volumes fell by more than 10% between 2011 and 2015.

Still wine exports are sluggish

Still wines (white, rose and red) dropped by 2% in value to 2.4 billion. The reason for this is a 3% fall in output compared to the previous six months. “The ongoing lack of availability, of wines in particular, is making it hard for our producers to keep up with the competition” Christophe Navarre, president of the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (FEVS) explained in a press release.

The ongoing problem of availability is unlikely to improve in 2016. The Chablis, Muscadet and Pic-Saint-Loup wine regions have all seen their harvests diminish. In the middle of August, the Ministry of Agriculture was forecasting a 10% fall in production on 2015 and a 7% drop on the average over the last five years.

Exports of French wine per country

The fall in wine exports has been particularly marked in the European Union (-2% in value). Across the Atlantic however, French wines are still putting up a fight (+9% in volume, +10.3% in value) buoyed by the USA (now the top importer, ahead of the UK, in terms of value). Results are also positive in the China/Hong Kong/Singapore region – +0.5% in volume and +5% in value to 960 million.

Overall, French wines are increasing in value but the lack of availability is punishing exports. Christophe Navarre suggests the way forward: “For our producers to remain competitive, we need to open up major export markets and remove trade barriers with countries as varied as the USA, Canada, Vietnam and China”.


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