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Devillard calls for French rethink

Published:  23 July, 2008

Most markets show decline

Bertrand Devillard has called for a wholesale rethink for French wine in the wake of a 5% drop in exports worldwide, and a 16% fall in the UK. Devillard, president of the Fdration des Exportateurs des Vins et Spiritueux de France, said: "It is a profound and structural phenomenon which necessitates a review of the global offering of French wine." And he added, echoing a recent comment by Robert Beynat, Vinexpo chief executive: "We need to relax our system of production to compete on a level playing field with the New World." The US French wine market rose 3.8% by value, but figures for France's other major markets followed the declining pattern of the UK, down 11.1% in Germany, 5.6% in Belgium and 5.1% in the Netherlands. Exports of Bordeaux to the UK were down 16.3% by value. Surprisingly, exports of Languedoc Roussillon to the UK also fell by the same amount, though much of that was by bulk. The Loire fell by 8.8% in value, with an 18.3% volume drop, suggesting that British wine shippers are increasingly turning to the New World for the style of wine produced by these regions. "Unless we do something quickly, in four or five years' time there will be severe problems," said Christian Delpeuch, director general of the Bordeaux ngociant, Ginestet. Alsace, with a 2.5% value rise, and Ctes du Rhne, up 5.8% by value, bucked the falling trend for other regions in the UK. Burgundy was up 0.2%. Sales of Cognac to the UK fell by 20%. However, Catherine Manac'h, senior account manager, wine, at Sopexa, put the fall down to a poor first six months for France in the UK: "Over-stocking in 1999 had an effect on the level of exports during the first half of the year."