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Sparkling wine outshines Champagne

As still wine and Champagne suffer volume losses, sparkling wine’s growth in the on-trade is flourishing, reports Ellie Quigley of CGA Strategy.

With still wine volumes standing at -6.2% and Champagne at -12.5%, sparkling wine enjoyed a volume rise of +3.2% (CGA Brand Index to 24.12.11)

Since March 2011, sparkling wine volume has outperformed Champagne, with the gap between the two categories at Christmas closing in 2011, as sparkling wine volumes for the period climbed 2% higher than Champagne at the festive period.

These figures support the growing appreciation of sparkling wine as an affordable opportunity for consumer treat spend in the on-trade.

Within the sparkling wine category, it is the Italian and Spanish varieties that are enjoying the largest growth, which is partly a result of an increase in the number of outlets that are specific to a region.

In 2011, 31% of restaurants that opened were Italian, and with a focus on heritage and provenance of the food and drink, it is a Prosecco or other Italian sparkling wine that is going to be the immediate stocking choice.

From a consumer perspective, the taste profile of products like Prosecco is slightly lighter and sweeter, making it much easier to drink for some people. However, while Prosecco volume in the sparkling category is highest, it is also losing the most volume (-8.2% over MAT), as its popularity spreads through the off-trade, and consumers begin to scrutinise value in more frugal times.

Interestingly, sparkling Zinfandel from the US has begun to pick up where Prosecco leaves off, growing 9.7% volume over the MAT. What’s more, this style is expanding its reach away from events such as Valentine’s Day to show that it can be popular all year round, and is currently outperforming its still wine counterpart.

There are also emerging sparkling wine trends from Australia, with varietal styles from well-established wine brands such as Jack Rabbit, Berri Estates and Hardy’s all performing well; an indicator that although consumers are moving out of their comfort zones into sparkling wines, they are choosing brands they know and trust.

Outlets should capitalise on this flourishing category, paying as much attention to the sparkling section of their wine list as their still and Champagne selections. The key lies in drawing consumers to good-value, high-quality products that are deserving of buyer treat-spend budgets.

For a comprehensive overview and analysis of the international Champagne market, look out for the drinks business Champagne Report 2012 at next week’s CIVC tasting in London.

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