Cognac export volumes to East Asia have jumped 7% in the past year, new figures show.

Producers shipped 50.5m bottles in the 12 months to March, the Bureau National du Cognac (BNIC) said yesterday. Value also increased, up 6% to EUR938.7m (US$1.06bn).

The figures add weight to comments from major Cognac producers this year that demand in China has returned after two years of slumps caused by anti-extravagance measures and an economic slowdown. 

Twelve months ago, year-on-year export volumes to East Asia were down 15%, according to the BNIC. 

Despite the gains, Morgan Stanley analyst Olivier Nicolai remained cautious over the immediate health of China's Cognac market. He said the slowdown and government clampdown "will continue to weigh on premium Cognac demand".

According to Morgan Stanley data, Cognac volumes were down 10% in March. The month was competing against a tough comparison from last year when Chinese New Year fell on a later date.

Nicolai added: "Over the next three-to-four years, we believe the market will gradually 'normalise' toward VS and VSOP implying more downtrading at the expense of XO, resulting in a negative mix effect."

This week, LVMH CEO Jean-Jacques Guiony, whose company owns Moët Hennessy, said VSOP sales by retailers over Chinese New Year were up mid-single digits while XO "was better than that". 

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