As last year’s shipments reflect, the days of massive volume growth in Champagne’s mature markets has seemingly come to an end.
Champagne sales in the EU dropped by almost 6m bottles in 2012
Overall, Champagne figures to the end of 2012 showed a global decline of almost 14.2 million bottles, representing a 4.4% drop – the region shipped fewer than 309m bottles last year compared to almost 323m bottles in 2011. And it was the European Union which saw the greatest drop, falling 7.1% over the last 12 months, from 82.3m bottles in 2011 to 76.4m in 2012.
Domestic market France – which accounts for almost 56% of the total market for Champagne – also endured declines, with more than 10m fewer bottles ordered by French retailers and restaurants in the last year, representing a 5.6% decrease to 171.4m bottles.
Summing up the situation in Europe, Gilles de la Bassetière, president of Champagne de Venoge, comments, “Italy and Belgium are suffering, England is difficult, Spain and Ireland are dead.”
Nevertheless, pockets of growth within Europe are evident, with Poland, Russia and Turkey noted for current sales increases, and future potential.
Indeed, Dom Pérignon chose to launch its rosé 2002 in Istanbul at the beginning of the year. Scandinavia, particularly Sweden, is still a source of rising demand, while even the UK still offers opportunity, but centred on value, not volume growth.
London is the export capital of Champagne according to Francoise Peretti
As a consequence, speaking of the latter market, Andrew Hawes, managing director at Bollinger’s UK importer Mentzendorff, said that the use of deep discounting to sell large quantities of Champagne was on the wane. “It is part of a broader trend for the UK to shift back towards a value-driven rather than volume-driven market, both because of increasing constraints on supply and increasing pressures on retailers to find other ways to sell.”
Similarly, Françoise Peretti, director of the Champagne Bureau in the UK, cites Nielsen off-trade figures to show that sales have declined more in volume than value.
“For us that says the UK can no longer be a volume market… the UK is a mature market, and when you are mature, it is about value growth.”
She also stresses the country’s role as a shop window for Champagne – London’s financial muscle, vibrant restaurant scene and cosmopolitan nature makes it a draw for the global super-rich.
“London is a magnet for Russians, Chinese and Brazilians… we are the only capital city in the world with this mix of people, which makes us the export capital of Champagne,” she said.
Other Champagne trends reported by the drinks business include:
4. Distant success
5. Perfect fruit
6. Fine wine following
7. Going green
8. Disgorgement debate
9. Reinstating rituals
10. Sweet surge