French Farm Exports Climb in July on Sales of Wine and Cognac

France’s farm and food exports, the world’s fifth-biggest by value, rose for a second month in July as overseas sales of wine and cognac more than made up for a drop in grain shipments.

Exports climbed to 4.56 billion euros ($5.8 billion) from 4.33 billion euros a year earlier, the Agriculture Ministry wrote in an online report today. Sales of spirits including cognac jumped 29 percent on higher prices and volumes.

France is the world’s largest wine exporter and the European Union’s biggest grain shipper. Agricultural trade resulted in a current-account surplus of 11.6 billion euros last year, the highest since at least 1995, according to the ministry.

“The trade surplus for transformed products is rising fast,” the ministry said. “Wine, alcohol and food preparations are driving the growth.”

Farm products and food contributed to a current-account surplus of 842 million euros in July, down 22 million euros from the same time a year ago.

France’s grain exports excluding rice plunged to 490 million euros from 628 million euros in July last year, while oilseed and protein-crop exports slipped to 118 million euros from 125 million euros, the ministry said.

“Exports of soft wheat and corn continue to plunge at this very start of the campaign,” the ministry wrote.

Wine and champagne shipments rose to 654 million euros from 588 million euros. Total beverage exports rose to 1.23 billion euros from 1.04 billion euros, helped by a jump in cognac sales, the report showed.

France imported 3.72 billion euros of agricultural goods and food in the month, compared with 3.47 billion euros in July 2011, the ministry said.

Food and farm exports climbed to 32.8 billion euros in the first seven months of 2012 from 32.3 billion euros in the year-earlier period, while the current-account surplus slipped to 6.01 billion euros from 6.09 billion euros.

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