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French wine exports drop to lowest level in ten years

The value of French wine exports plummeted by nearly 20% to €5.5bn last year – their lowest level for a decade.

According to official figures compiled by export development agency Ubifrance, 12.5m hectolitres of wine were shipped during 2009, down 8.7% on the year before.

AOC wines were worst affected, with the value of Champagne exports plunging by 28%.

Bordeaux exports were down 23.2% and Burgundy dipped 22.7%. Vins de Pays and Vins de Table suffered smaller falls, Ubifrance said.

Nearly every market bar China registered a decline, led by top export destination the UK, which fell 23.2% to about €1.1bn.

Ubifrance blamed the declines on a number of factors, including the lower prices of the 2006 Bordeaux vintage and competition from cheap sources of wine in the New World, for instance Australia and Argentina.

But the agency said the last two months of 2009 had been ‘quite good’, with exports in December 7.1% up on the previous year.

‘It is still too early for talk of recovery, but some of the positive signs at the end of 2009 look set to continue,’ Ubifrance said.

The agency is planning more than 140 separate initiatives during 2010 aimed at reinvigorating exports in traditional and emerging markets.

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Written by Richard Woodard

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