Yesterday, at the general meeting of SICA (Societe d’Interet Collectif Agricole) at l’Espace 3000 in Cognac, the President of Hennessy, Bernard Peillon, announced that the company had seen its best year ever in terms of sales.

Over 1000 growers lined the room as the number one cognac producer declared that with these results they had now returned to a sales level which exceeded that of pre-economic crisis sales.  In fact, 2010 sales were 1% higher than that of 2007, the previous peak year of sales.

But Mr Peillon warned that the success of last year must be consolidated and built upon this year.  He called for a sustained effort which not only relied on the substantial sales in Asia, but on a world-wide level.

He refused to be drawn on the effects that the recent earthquake and nuclear disaster in Japan, Hennessy’s fifth largest global market, might mean to the company.  But he was quick to assure the crowd that all staff working for Moet-Hennessy in Japan were thankfully unhurt.

Also hotly debated was the subject of taxation on spirits and differences in opinions of various aspects of the grape producers of Charente.  With the drink of Pineau failing to be awarded any decrease in tax, James Banier of the Sica de Bagnolet, warned of the dangers of a rift within the growers and producers of spirits in the region of Cognac.  He said that it is essential that the growers who serve on the BNIC should live, think and breathe the area and the cognac.

Although Mr Banier did not name names, everyone present immediately assumed he was referring to the President du Comite du Pineau and BNIC Chef de la Viticulture, Jean-Bernard de Larquier.

Sources: www.sudouest.fr, www.charentelibre.fr

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Jacki has been with Cognac Expert from virtually the beginning. She's the senior editor of the blog, and has spent much of her life living in rural France. Today she's based back in the UK, where she splits her working life between writing for Cognac Expert and working as a Paramedic at a large regional hospital.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    Peter Bowyer

    We live in times of change, where the voice of the small man can be heard if the crowd can start to work together. Events in the middle east testify to the power of the people and the facility that good communication, via the internet etc, has helped to achieve.

    What is interesting here is the comments alluding to unrest between the growers and the big houses – something which has long been an issue – in part because of the low prices paid by the cartel formed by the big houses when they buy the eau-de-vie from the many thousands of small producers. Hence many of the smaller producers selling some of their produce under their own label in order to make ends meet.

    Sadly the fact is that these small producer cognacs hardly ever reach a wider audience and this is something which will be lost on 99% of cognac drinkers.

    There are very few cognac growers – the people who toil 24-7 to tend the vines, pick the grapes, distil the wine etc – who make much money out of the industry; whereas M. Bernard Arnault – CEO of LMVH who own Hennessy – was described as the world’s fourth richest man this week…

    One can see why many of the cognac growers resent selling their product at a knock-down price when the big boys who are buying it are making so much money out of re-selling it.

    It would be very interesting to hear more about the way in which the BNIC chief is perceived by the various sides within the industry – can you enlighten us please?

    Without wishing to cause any uneccessary problems is there a concerted effort by the growers to form their own alliance in order to try to preserve their position or are they still more intent on fighting each other – which always used to be the case?!?!

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