Champagne exports up nearly 20 percent

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French exports of Champagne shot up 19.5 percent in 2010 after two years of sagging sales abroad due to the global economic crisis, an industry source said this week.

Britain remained the top importer of genuine bubbly, buying 35.5 million of the 134.5 million bottles shipped outside France, according to the Interprofessional Committee for Wine and Champagne (CIVC).

Sales in Champagne's number two overseas market, the United States, jumped nearly 35 percent over the previous year, to 16.9 million bottles, followed by Germany and Belgium, up 21.6 and 7.8 percent respectively.

The only exception to the upward trend was The Netherlands, where the appetite for the luxury beverage slacked off by nearly 10 percent, to 2.4 million bottles shipped.

While still a small slice of overall exports, demand for Champagne nearly doubled in Russia and China, which both topped one million bottles imported in 2010.

Brazil has also acquired a taste for the sparkling wine, buying up more than 600,000 bottles.

At home, sales in France expanded comfortably by 2.3 percent to 184 million bottles.

Total Champagne sales in 2010 of 319.5 million bottles -- 4.11 billion euros (5.82 billion dollars) at the cash register -- is the fourth highest in history. The record of 338.7 million bottles was set in 2007.

Hit by the global financial meltdown, bubbly exports fell by 28 percent in 2009.

© 2011 AFP

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