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Champagne growth ‘slowing significantly’ across Europe

Sales of Prosecco in Europe are continuing to grow faster than Champagne in both volume and value, with market analysts reporting slowing growth of Champagne across much of Europe.

According to IRI’s latest statistics, for the year ending 30 September, Prosecco sales across Europe hit €789m in 2016, compared to Champagne sales which were worth €1.4bn.

Despite Champagne’s market value being double that of Prosecco, the Italian fizz is continuing to grow at a much faster rate, growing 24% in value compared with Champagne which grew by a modest 0.9%.

By volume, Prosecco increased its sales across Europe by 23% to 77 million litres, compared with Champagne which saw its volume sales decline by 0.3% throughout the continent.

Across Europe IRI said all countries are showing Champagne volume growth except its largest market, France, which saw volumes decline by 1.2%.

However, France remains the number one market, worth €921m, accounting for around 66% of all Champagne sales in Europe.

“Whilst Champagne growth appears to be slowing significantly across most of Europe, although up in other parts of the world, Prosecco continues to grow and grow in almost every market apart from the Netherlands,” said Tim Eales, strategic insight director at IRI.

“Even Cava, which seemed to fall out of favour with the rise in popularity of Prosecco a few years ago, has seen value and volume increases in most countries this year.”

The UK remains one of the biggest markets for Prosecco, drinking 2.5 times more of the fizz than Italy, and paying almost twice the price per litre.

Overall, the UK accounted for over three-quarters of all Prosecco sales in Europe, worth €600m, which dwarfs the value of the UK’s Champagne market, which currently stands at €333m.

This is despite IRI reporting that the price of Champagne had fallen in the UK by 7% since the country’s vote to leave the EU in June.

One trend helping to drive sales of Prosecco is the popularity of magnum formats, with Paolo Lasagni, managing director of Bosco Viticultori, telling the drinks business last month that his company had seen a 1,000% uplift of sales of Prosecco in magnum in the past year.

“There’s a real trend for people wanting Prosecco in larger format bottles – we’re bottling magnums like crazy to keep up with demand,” he said.

“Our magnum sales are up by 1,000% and people are willing to pay more for magnums than the equivalent price of two 75cl bottles. Prosecco is booming in the US but has reached its peak in the UK – it had to happen eventually as that level of growth wasn’t sustainable.

Bosco Viticultori recently launched an own-label DOC Prosecco in collaboration with M&S in a gold painted bottle called Conte Priuli Oro, which retails at £15.

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