French spirits and wine exports dip

• From the Associated Press

PARIS -- French exports of Champagne and Cognac suffered a record drop last year as people drank less and switched to cheaper brands in the United States and Britain, its biggest foreign markets.

Exports of wine and spirits fell 17% to $10.5 billion last year, according to figures released Thursday by the Federation of French Wine and Spirits Exporters.

It marked the largest ever one-year drop and first annual decline since 2004, said Renaud Gaillard, a spokesman for the industry group. France is the world's biggest wine and spirits exporter.

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