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Champagne shipments fall to pre-Covid levels

Figures just released by the Comité Champagne have shown shipments have fallen by 8.2% to total 299 million bottles for 2023, but turnover has remained close to last year’s record.

The decline in shipments for the past 12 months has taken the region back to its pre-Covid size, with the year-end total for 2019 reaching 297.3m bottles (see figures below), before the region experienced an “atypical three years”, db was told on Monday in an exclusive interview with the Comité Champagne co-presidents, Maxime Toubart and David Chatillon.

While Covid-related lockdowns pushed Champagne shipments down to 245m bottles in 2020, the following two years saw a bounce back in sales as markets worldwide popped corks and built-up stocks, with 2021 seeing 320m bottles shipped, and 2022 a near-record of 326m.

“300 million bottles is a normal market for us,” Toubart told db this week, adding that he was “not surprised” by the 8% volume decline in 2023 compared to the previous year, before commenting that “2022 was exceptional”.

Chatillon concurred, telling db, “We knew we would ship fewer bottles in 2023 than 2022,” ascribing the decline to macro-economic issues – particularly declining disposable incomes – as well as the war in Ukraine and the Middle East, along with supply-side constraints following the huge surge in demand in 2022, which emptied cellars in Champagne.

Indeed, such was the quantity of Champagne shipped in 2022 to major markets, stocks were high going into 2023, leading key consuming nations such as the US opting to run down levels of fizz in the market, rather than ship more in.

“Overall, we think we have recovered the pre-Covid trend,” said Chatillon, adding, “which is in line with the general economy.”

Continuing he told db: “We have had three atypical years, with the fall in 2020, the high growth in 2021, and the euphoria in 2022 – but the comparison [of 2023’s shipment totals] is based on 2022, which was a record year.”

Driving shipments down has been the domestic market (which accounts for 43% of shipments), which decreased by 8.2%, while export markets were also down around a similar level, according to Chatillon.

However, the value of shipments in 2023 has remained similar to 2022, which was a new record for the region, surpassing €6 billion.

Chatillon said: “We are probably around €100m less than 2022, when we reached €6.2bn in turnover, but it [2023’s total] is still a very high level compared to previous years.”

Sustaining this high level despite the decline in shipment volumes are increases in price of Champagne, as well as a change in the product mix, with more high-value cuvées being sold.

Indeed, Chatillon told db that between 2019 and 2023 the average price of Champagne has gone up by 23%.

Both Chatillon and Toubart are hopeful that 2024 will bring an increase to the volumes shipped, as countries re-stock, and the global mood among consumers improves.

And, as Toubart pointed out, speaking of the French market, “With the Olympic games coming to France this year, we will need Champagne.”

Key points according to the Comité Champagne:

  • Total Champagne shipments in 2023 were 299 million bottles, down 8.2% from the previous year.
  • After three extraordinary years, Champagne is back to pre-Covid shipment levels.
  • With 297.3 million bottles in 2019, sales had fallen the following year by 18% during the pandemic, and then bounced back by 33% in the following two years to reach over 325 million bottles by the end of 2022.
  • In 2023, France is down by 8.2% with 127 million bottles. The domestic market has suffered more from inflation, compared to export markets, which has weighed on household budgets throughout the year.
  • Exports are down 8.2% from 2022, with 172 million bottles, but are well above their 2019 level (156 million bottles), and now account for more than 57% of total sales, compared to 45% ten years ago.

Champagne shipments (bottles) 2023-1999:

2023: 299m
2022: 326m
2021: 320m
2020: 245m
2019: 297.5m
2018: 301.9m
2017: 307.3m
2016: 306.1m
2015: 313m
2014: 307m
2013: 305m
2012: 309m
2011: 323m
2010: 319m
2009: 293m
2008: 322.5m
2007: 338.7m
2006: 321.8m
2005: 307.7m
2004: 301.4m
2003: 293.5m
2002: 287.7m
2001: 262.7m
2000: 253.2m
1999: 327m

All figures are sourced from the Comité Champagne

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