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Poor grape crop hits wine exports

Experts warn that France may lose more market share as rival nations enjoy bumper harvests

THE SMALL grape crop of 2013 in France could hit wine exports, experts have warned, adding that lower volumes could lead to higher prices.

Last year, French wine sales abroad were worth more than €11bn, according to the assessment of the Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits (CFTS) but it warned of problems ahead.

CFTS president Louis Fabrice Latour said: “We are suffering after two successive small crops,” and questioned whether international customers would accept any price rises in the face of competition from Spain and Australia.

In 2013, French vintners harvested 43.2 million hectolitres wine, out of 280 million hectolitres harvested across the world. But Beaujolais and Bordeaux, both of which are popular abroad, reaped short vintages of what has been described as “highly variable quality”.

Experts warned of a potential 30% rise in the price of Bordeaux, while America’s strong Chardonnay production threatens to weaken France’s position in the market.

Mr Latour said: “The wine trade has doubled in the past 30 years. In the same period, France has lost half of some parts of the market.”

While wine exports to Asia remain healthy, there has been a sharp drop in sales of Cognac to China.

However, it is not all bad news as French vintners turn to Africa, where sales of champagne are strong.

Angola, Nigeria and Ghana are now turning to wine. "This will be the next big continent" said Christophe Navarre, CEO of Moët Hennessy.

Photo:Christine and Hagen Graf

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