The strong euro is expected to weigh on French wine and spirits sales in 2008 after an "historic and absolute record" year in 2007, trade body Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux (FEVS) has warned.

Although 12-month figures for last year are not yet available, FEVS has estimated export sales of between EUR9.2bn and EUR9.5bn, an increase of 5 to 9% on the previous year, FEVS' deputy director general Renaud Gaillard has confirmed today (7 January).

However, after a buoyant 2007, the current year could well mark a plateau in export growth. The increasingly penalising parity between the euro and the dollar and yen is likely to pose difficulties for French firms who until now have cushioned the impact of the strong European currency by raising prices.

In the past two years, Champagne and Cognac prices have risen by 15%, while, in 2007, prices for high quality still wines increased by between 5 and 10%.

FEVS underlined that its members' foreign customers will not accept such hikes indefinitely at a time when other producer countries are selling more cheaply on the market. "We already know that the proposed (price) increases of 10% for 2008 are making foreign buyers frown," Gaillard told just-drinks.