Cognac sales hit record as demand soars in China

PARIS Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:49am EST

A technical expert takes a sample of Cognac in a cellar at the Hennessy factory in Cognac, southwestern France, January 22, 2009. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

A technical expert takes a sample of Cognac in a cellar at the Hennessy factory in Cognac, southwestern France, January 22, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Regis Duvignau

PARIS (Reuters) - Global cognac sales reached a record last year, with more than five bottles sold every second, boosted by soaring demand in China, the BNIC industry body said on its website.

The number of bottles sold rose by 6.4 percent to 162.9 million in 2011, with volumes up 20 percent in China, the BNIC said.

The Far East, which accounted for more than one-third of demand, was the biggest market and the fastest-growing with volumes up 14.4 percent, according to BNIC.

Sales in Europe inched up just 0.4 percent to 46.9 million bottles, while demand in NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) countries rose 3.2 percent to 50.8 million bottles.

The head of French spirits group Remy Cointreau told Reuters this week that he was optimistic about 2012 despite economic woes in Europe thanks to strong demand for its premium cognac in Asia and a recovering U.S. market.

The maker of Remy Martin cognac and Cointreau liqueur had "very good" Christmas sales, while October-December sales sharply exceeded its expectations thanks to strong cognac shipments ahead of the Chinese New Year, Chief Executive Jean-Marie Laborde said.

(Reporting by Claude Canellas; Writing by James Regan, editing by Jane Baird)

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