French wine and spirit exports rose 11% last year to hit a new record, mainly boosted by a rise in prices, and the trend should last this year as Chinese consumers return to restaurants and resume travel, industry group FEVS said.
Overseas sales of wine and spirits - France's second-biggest export after aerospace goods - reached €17.2 billion in 2022, up 10.8% on 2021, the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters (FEVS) said.
However, volumes sold fell 3.8%, mainly due to poor wine production in 2021 linked to frost damage and logistical problems, it said. Champagne exports outperformed, though, gaining 8.5% in volume and 20% in value as they set a record last year.
After sharp rises in the past two years sales of Cognac, France's most exported spirit, gained more than 9% in value but fell 4% in volume.
Exports to the United States, France's largest market for wine and spirits, jumped 14% last year to 4.7 billion euros and now accounted for over a fourth of total exports in value.
"The United States confirmed its role as the driving force behind French wine and spirits exports," FEVS Chairman Cesar Giron told Reuters.
Exports to Britain, France's second largest market, rose nearly 7% in value last year to €1.7 billion, helped by inflation.
Restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic in China weighed on wine and spirits exports to the region last year but Giron expected a rebound in 2023 after Beijing relaxed curbs.
"Restaurants and hotels are full, people want to see each other so I expect a rebound in the coming months in terms of wine and spirits in China," he said.
A resumption in travel would also boost duty free sales, he said.
The war between Russia and Ukraine cut exports to Russia by half but Giron stressed that the market was relatively small compared to total exports. The war had rather an indirect impact due to the rise in energy prices and grain to make vodka.