Bittersweet results for French wine exports

Shipments of French wine rose to nearly 9bn euros in 2018, but there was a marked fall in exports to China and Brexit has left producers in a ‘fog’ over the important UK market.

French wine exports rose by 2.6% in 2018 to €8.9bn, said the nation’s wine and spirits export body (FEVS) this week.

But, exports dropped by 4.6% versus the previous year in volume terms. This was partly blamed on small 2017 harvests in several regions of France.

Figures also showed a 25% drop in French wine shipments to China in 2018, with the value of exports to the country down by 16.4%, at €555.3m.

FEVS blamed this on wider economic conditions and said that it remained confident in China’s long-term potential as a market.

It was Brexit that dominated discussion around this week’s press conference in Paris. FEVS head Antoine Leccia reportedly told Associated Press that wine producers were in a ‘total fog’ – such was the ongoing uncertainty over the terms of the UK’s departure from the European Union.

There have been several reports of stockpiling in the UK, with both European producers keen to get extra stock across the English Channel and British merchants ordering extra supplies in case of disruption.

For example, retailer Majestic Wine said last November that it would bring in up to £8m of extra wine in its current financial year, which runs to the end of March, to cover any potential disruption.

French wine exports to the UK fell by 7% in volume in 2018, show FEVS figures.

However, in value terms, exports rose by 0.6% in 2018, to €1.1bn, with the UK remaining the second largest destination for French wines in the world by value.

Exports to the number one market, the US, rose by 6.4% to €1.66bn.