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Champagne exports ‘will overtake’ French sales for first time in 2015

More Champagne will be shipped abroad than sold in France in 2015, according to the new head of the Comite Champagne, who also warned that houses and growers must 'actively fight climate change'.

Festival: Marchers gather at the St Vincent Archiconfrerie de la Champagne 2015 last weekend

In one of his first public engagements since becoming managing director of the Comite Champagne, Vincent Perrin said he believes exports will overtake domestic consumption for the first time in memory in 2015.

‘Export sales will continue to grow, and will overtake French sales by the end 2015,’ said Perrin at the annual festival of St Vincent of the Archiconfrerie of Champagne in Epernay.

Champagne sales rose by 1% in volume in 2014, to around 308m bottles, according to provisional figures.

‘It is especially the long distance exports that are driving the growth,’ said Perrin, noting the US, Japan and Australia as the fastest growing markets. Exports within Europe increased slightly in 2014, but French consumption fell, Perrin added.

In 2013, Champagne sales within France totalled 167m bottles, down 2% on 2012, while exports reached around 137m bottles, the Comite Champagne said last year.

Alongside promoting exports, Perrin said his focus for 2015 was on sustainable development.

‘To protect our heritage, we need to actively fight climatic change by making more efforts to farm in an environmentally friendly way,’ he said. Over the last 10 years, the average temperature at harvest has increased by 1.8 degrees Celsius.

It was particularly warm half-way through the 2014 harvest, which meant winemakers faced challenges to keep the grapes cool enough before pressing.

Last year, the Comite Champagne created its own ecological quality label named Viticulture Durable en Champagne.

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Written by Caroline Henry in Champagne

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