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What’s behind the 2021 boom in Champagne exports?

Champagne shipments experienced a marked leap in certain export markets in 2021 and demand has remained strong through January and February, writes Giles Fallowfield.

There was a boom in export shipments of champagne in 2021, particularly noticeable in certain top ten markets like the USA, up 63.9% in volume and 58.2% in value compared with 2020; the UK, up 40.4% in volume, 48.8% in value; Italy (up 32.8 and 36.3%); Spain (up 26.2 and 32.6%) and Holland (up 36.3 and 33.7%). Demand for champagne has continued strongly in early 2022, indicating that there was very little stock left in the distribution system at the end of 2021, particularly significant in the three tier US distribution system.

Overall shipments in January 2022 were up 22.5% on January 2021, while in February they rose by 24.9% with export markets, up 34.6%, continuing to look stronger than the French domestic market, though that was up too by 10.8%.

With the detailed market by market figures finally published by the Champagne Comité we can see in a little more detail what happened to those export shipments that bounced back so strongly. For the USA which became the largest export market for Champagne in 2021 with volume up on 2020 to 34.12m bottles (volume in the second placed destination the UK was 28.88m) and value ahead to €792.49m, the figures were also well ahead of 2019 when volume stood at 25,677,377 bottles (it dropped 24.6% in 2020) and value was €665.23m.

While we know that the top growers have made significant headway in the US market with their combined sales rising to 1.88m bottles in 2021, more than three times the volume of growers’ sales in the UK in 2021 (546,891 bottles), the US market is still dominated by the big international brands with the top five between them accounting for 62.3% of sales by volume with 21.26m bottles, which was up 46.6% on 2020 (with a considerably larger value share as their bottle prices, other than Nicolas Feuillatte, are some of the highest).

Out of the top five, we know three of the brands, Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon and Laurent-Perrier, ranked first, second and fourth by Impact International in 2020, all managed some growth in that difficult year, while brand three, Nicolas Feuillatte and brand five, Perrier-Jouët both fell back. Feuillatte’s volume was down nearly one third and Perrier-Jouet’s dropped 18.3%, and nine of the other top 20 brands had double digit declines in volume, according to Impact Databank figures.

Moët-Hennessy already dominated sales of champagne in the US in 2020 and now, while thanks to pretty astonishing 63.8% volume growth in 2021, Laurent-Perrier has moved up to third place in the pecking order ahead of Feuillatte, Dom Pérignon has moved slightly ahead of Perrier-Jouët (which itself saw 42.1% growth) into fifth slot, so the group has three top five places.
But Clicquot, number one brand in the US and Moët number two, dominate the market, both shipping more than 7m bottles there in 2021, compared with Laurent-Perrier’s 804,000 bottles. Even without 14th ranked Ruinart and 18th ranked Krug (in 2020 in volume terms, we don’t have 2021 figures as they are outside the top ten) between them market leader Veuve Clicquot and Moët account for 43.6% of the market by volume and rather more by value.

Fifth placed Dom Pérignon, that saw its sales rise 11.5% in 2021 to 660,000 bottles builds the MH share to 45.5% and at a conservative estimate Ruinart and Krug add a further 1% share in volume terms, more in value, building the Moët Hennessy slice of the US cake to over 47%. Third place brand Laurent-Perrier now musters a 2.35% market share.

The Champagne Comité detailed figures show us that vintaged prestige cuvée sector among the international marques in its entirety, amounts to 912,564 bottles so Dom Pérignon on its own has 72.3% of that, while the unvintaged or multi vintage prestige sector, amounts to a surprisingly high figure of 996,356 bottles. It’s tempting to surmise the two most significant brands here are Krug’s Grande Cuvée and Laurent-Perrier’s Grand Siècle, as within the 2020 top 20 brands, Clicquot’s Extra Brut Extra Old is one of the only other lines that comes to mind. Therefore, it looks like Grande Cuvée and/or Grand Siècle or both, have seen significant growth in the US in 2021.

To discover the 9 best-selling Champagne brands in the US in 2021, click here.

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