As we’ve reported many times over the last year, the Chinese Government has had a major crackdown on all things luxury and opulent – and this, of course, includes cognac.

But it’s only now that the impact of this is beginning to be counted in cold hard numbers.  The latest figures from the BNIC show that the last 12 months have seen a massive drop in worldwide exports; 6.7 per cent in volume and a crazy 10.2 per cent in value, to be exact.

Evolution of Cognac Exports (Source: BNIC)

And these figures are solely down to the Chinese market.  A drop of 20.9 per cent in volume and 19.1 per cent in value is a massive decrease since the halcyon year of 2012 when China was the promised land for all things cognac.

Remy Cointreau, owners of Rémy Martin, reports a 30 per cent decline in sales during the final quarter of 2013.  And it’s not only cognac that’s been hit, because sales of whisky and baijiu are also significantly down.

Cognac and its Main Markets (Source: BNIC)

However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the rest of the world continues to either remain stable or show good increases.  This is particularly noticeable in areas such as sub-Saharan Africa.  Here, growth of 16.9 per cent in volume and 20.1 per cent in value have been seen over the last 12 months. Both Martell and Hennessy have been concentrating efforts on areas such as Nigeria, and this appears to be paying off.

The NAFTA regions continue to grow in strength; up 6 per cent in volume and 3 per cent in value, with 54.1 million bottle shipped (the largest amount worldwide).

Eastern Europe also performs well, increasing 4 per cent both in volume and value.  The Western European markets are still suffering from the recession of the past years, bringing the total European imports down by 4.7 percent in volume and 11.7 per cent in value – giving a total of 41 million bottles imported.

And China is still a force to be reckoned with, importing 49.2 million bottles with a turnover of almost one billion euros.

Cognac Shipments (Source: BNIC)

When you look at the numbers when it comes to values, VS have seen the best increase – going up by 3.1 per cent in volume and 1.8 per cent in value on a global scale.  This is thanks to the increase in sales to the USA.

VSOP and older, which were the mainstay of the Chinese imports, have dropped by 13.3 per cent in volume and 16.9 per cent in value.

As a whole, the cognac market now shows a far more balanced distribution around the globe.  Europe accounts for 26.4 per cent of sales, the Far East for 31.6 per cent and NAFTA FOR 36.4 per cent.


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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.

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