China has overtaken France in Cognac consumption, according to recent figures.

The Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac (BNIC) said earlier this month that 1.9m litres of pure alcohol (around 6.3m bottles) were exported to China in the year to 31 October, compared to 1.8m lpa (about 6m bottles) sold in France. The organisation positions China as the world's fifth biggest Cognac market.

America remains comfortably the largest market for Cognac, with Singapore second - although many cases are distributed from Singapore around Asia. The UK stands at third and Germany fourth. The French market has been in steady decline for a decade. Cognac sales there are half what they were 20 years ago, and tumbled by 15% in 2005/6.

The Chinese market, by contrast, has been in double digit growth since the country's accession to the WTO in 2001, with sales growing 45% in the last year.