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UK could be reaching ‘peak Prosecco’ as sales rise by lowest levels in six years

Sales of sparkling wine in the UK rose by its lowest levels since 2011, according to figures by UHY Hacker Young, which suggested that with overexposure and overstocking in supermarkets, the UK may be heading for “peak Prosecco”.

Sales of sparkling wine in the UK totalled 35.8 million gallons in 2017, an increase of 5% compared to the previous year – the first year of single-digit growth since 2011, according to UHY Hacker Young

Commenting on the findings, spokesman James Simmonds said: “A five per cent increase in sales is not at all bad but that comes after several years of double-digit growth.

“Unless the industry can revitalise its image this year, we may now be reaching ‘peak Prosecco’.

Stating that Prosecco may have reached a ‘Burberry moment’, Simmonds continued: “It is hard for a luxury product to make the leap into the mass market without losing its reputation for exclusivity.

“A lot of English wine producers are now vying to capture the space left, as Prosecco moves to the mainstream.”

It has previously been predicted that Prosecco will experience strong growth over the next few years, reaching yearly sales of 34.4m cases or 412.8m bottles by 2022.

According to IWSR forecasts published last year, sales of Prosecco are forecast to hit 12.7m cases in Italy by 2020, up 14%, while in the UK market, sales are expected to reach 8.3m cases by 2022.

According to figures released earlier this year by HMRC, a record 4 million bottles of sparkling and still wines from the UK were released into the market in 2017. Industry body WineGB anticipates that the English and Welsh wine industry has the potential to produce 40m bottles by 2040, which would make it a £1 billion business.

The UK is also expanding its area under vine, with one million vines planted last year and a further 1.7 million due to be added this year.

In an interview with the drinks business in March, CEO of Vinexpo Guillame Deglis said that while Prosecco remains the most popular fizz in the UK, British consumers are “also keen to discover new categories in sparkling wine”. 

While he suggested that Crémant and sparkling wines from the New World were starting to encroach on Prosecco’s market share, he added: “At the end of the day you need to see figures, and when you compare Crémant’s figures with those of Prosecco, you see that there is absolutely no competition. Prosecco is far more advanced than Crémant, and I think the Prosecco category will defend that position”.

Meanwhile, the fall in Champagne sales in the UK last year, was caused by societal changes in Britain, a rise in prices for the French fizz, and an altered approach to selling the product in the UK’s major retailers, according to Andrew Hawes, chairman of the UK Champagne Agents Association and managing director of Mentzendorff.

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