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French Wines And Spirits Accelerate In The U.S.

October 18, 2021

After French drinks exports to the U.S. dropped significantly in 2020 due to higher tariffs—whose five-year suspension was announced back in June—shipments have been rebounding strongly in the first two-thirds of this year. Through August, U.S. imports of wine and spirits from France combined for increases of 28% and 39% in volume and value terms respectively, according to the French government agency BusinessFrance. French beer and cider export shipments to the U.S. have also registered year-to-date gains.

After falling behind Provence earlier in the year, Bordeaux regained its number-one ranking among the largest-selling wine regions from France, as imports into the U.S. surged 31% through August in volume terms, and 86% by value. Partially due to stiff competition from rosé wines from all origins, Provence was the only major French appellation to export less to the U.S. through the first two-thirds of 2021. Double-digit gains were recorded by most other regions, and across other segments—vermouth exports to the U.S. rose 56% year-to-date while Champagne surged 80%. Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon together comprise over two-thirds of the Champagne market in the U.S.—according to Impact Databank—and bucked the trend last year by registering volume gains during the pandemic.

With the exception of vodka (-31% year-to-date), import shipments of most French spirits also recorded impressive increases through August. French liqueurs soared 53% in volume terms, while the largest segment, Cognac, rose 26%. After crossing the 5-million-case mark last year, Hennessy Cognac became one of the 10 largest-selling spirits overall in the U.S. market for the first time. Hennessy and Rémy Martin, which has also been growing strongly, comprise well over three-quarters of the Cognac market in the U.S., according to Impact Databank.—Juan Banaag

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