Cognac sales increased in 2017 for the third consecutive year, by more than 10% in volume and more than 14% in value over 2016.
This growth was driven by sales to North America, which reinforced its leading market position, and to Asia, which is recovering strongly, according to the cognac trade body.
Sales of cognac (of which nearly 98% was exported) reached their highest level in 2017, at nearly 197.4 million bottles in volume terms, and in value terms, with sales of 3.15 billion euro, according to the BNIC (Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac).
The NAFTA market (the US, Canada and Mexico) further strengthened its leading market position, taking 43.6% of total shipments, with growth in both volume (+11.4%) and value (+12.6%). This corresponds to 86.1 million bottles, with the US taking 82.6 million of them.
The Far East market, second in importance with 28.8% of shipments, had recovered slightly in 2016 after a marked decline in 2014 and stabilisation thereafter. But it experienced sustained growth in 2017: +11.3% in volume and +18.4% in value, for nearly 56.9 million bottles shipped.
In a statement, BNIC president Patrick Raguenaud said that this “dynamic of strong recovery” in Asia testifies to “the lasting appetite of the Chinese for cognacs, while we remain in a context of normalization of the market”.
With 25.5 million bottles imported in 2017, and continuous growth, China is cognac’s second-biggest customer after the United States for direct shipments.
Sales to Europe, which accounted for 21.1% of total shipments (more than 41.6 million bottles), also confirmed a recovery: +5.7% in volume and +8.7% in value over 2016. Russia (+32.7% in volume) is largely responsible for this trend.
While still marginal (6.5% of the total shipped), the “areas of opportunity” of the rest of the world (South Africa, East Africa, and Oceania) also contributed to overall growth: +13.2% in volume, +17.3% in value.
Production in 2017 was impacted by April frosts. The distillation of the harvest should thus approach 635,000 hectolitres of pure alcohol, down about 15% from nearly 750,000 hl in 2016.