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How much you should actually be paying for Cava?

Cava producers who want to recover lost market share in the UK should focus on a price ‘sweet spot’ of £12-15, according to Vilarnau owner Gonzalez Byass.

(Photo: iStock)

“This ‘sweet spot’ is certainly an opportunity for Cava brands,” said Sarah Pollard, Senior Brand & Communications Manager, Gonzalez Byass UK Ltd.

“Brands have the chance to own this sweet spot between Prosecco and Champagne, and they need to communicate the quality cues in order to be seen as a trade-up from the every-day.”

According to Pollard, sales of Vilarnau Cava have more than doubled in the last two years, yet overall the category continues to struggle in the UK market. The IWSR’s data shows a consumption decline of -6.8% CAGR (2014-2018), while sales across the hospitality sector also continue to fall.

“Cava is witnessing significant double-digit declines in the GB on-trade,” said Mark Newton, senior partnership development manager, CGA Strategy.

“While efforts to introduce more premium products have the potential to recalibrate its position, currently Cava still suffers from the absolute dominance of Prosecco as the budget sparkler of choice for the majority of mainstream consumers,” he added.

However, Pollard stated that the so called ‘peak Prosecco’ phenomenon will present new opportunities for growth in the coming months.

“There is a lot of talk of having reached ‘peak Prosecco’, and that consumers are now looking for something different, and often drier in style,” she said.

“This is a perfect opportunity for Cava to step into that space in the market, and we are certainly seeing that happening. We are very optimistic about the future of premium Cava.”

In October 2019, the Cava D.O hired six wine experts – including Sarah Jane Evans MW and Pedro Ballesteros MW – to review proposals for its segmentation and zoning project. The six new consultants will examine the D.O’s proposals, which aim to highlight “the quality, differentiation, origin and prestige of Cava.”

The Consejo Regulador also launched an international campaign in September 2019, unveiling a series of initiatives designed to improve Cava’s reputation and reposition the category as a diverse, quality-led sparkling wine style.

Nevertheless, the UK trade remains ambivalent about Cava’s future in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

“Cava has a dreadful image problem in the UK, and it’s very hard to say how it can be overcome,” said Ted Sandbach, owner of the Oxford Wine Company.

He added: “Perhaps a top-down approach will work – getting retailers and sommeliers excited about the premium stuff and hoping that will filter down to the consumer – but I would think it’ll be a pretty long slog. However, there has been some growth in the £12-15 price band for other non-Champagne styles such as Crémant – so perhaps there is also some room for Cava to make some inroads there.”

An in-depth look at Cava’s future will appear in the December issue of the drinks business.

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