French spirits exports fell 20% in the first quarter of the year, after rising in 2022, as inflation prompted consumers around the globe to shift away from more expensive alcohol brands, the Federation Francaise des Spiritueux (FFS) has said.
Spirits exports gained 11.7% in value last year, to €5.4 billion, but just 2.3% in volume, to 468 million litres, pulled by vodka (up 6.7% in volume) and liqueurs (up 14.1%).
Cognac remained the most exported spirit, but was down 3.7%.
"The upturn was short-lived, since exports at the start of the year plunged due to inflation, the effects of which are becoming global. For the first time since the health crisis, the export market is in decline," FFS said in a statement.
"This market no longer seems able to relay international growth," it added.
In France, where alcohol consumption has been in decline, sales volumes in retail outlets dropped 4.4% in value to €5 billion in 2022.
However, sales in cafes and restaurants rose back to pre-COVID levels, bringing some breathing space to operators in the sector, FFS said.
"The total reopening of places of conviviality, coupled with a dynamic offer (progress in cocktails and non-alcoholic) resulted in an increase in annual sales of 51.8% in this segment, representing a total of 20.1 million litres," FFS said.
FFS warned that many producers had suffered losses last year and even more so in the first half of 2023, as they were unable to pass a rise in costs, including surging glass and agricultural alcohol prices.
The FFS, representing French producers and spirits beverage distributors, encompasses nearly 250 companies, including small businesses and international groups.
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