Brexit fears burst bubbly’s balloon

Fizzy wine being poured into two flutes
Champagne sales have slipped back but are still near record levels

Sales rising across the world but UK market loses fizz with brutal sterling devalution

Bubbly was a sparkling success worldwide last year but fizzled out in the UK where Brexit doubts saw UK imports down 8.7%.

Despite global champagne sales being down 2.1% in volume it was, overall, a second good year for the industry. The €4.71billion of sales comes after a record €4.74bn in 2015 – meaning 306million bottles were sold.

Quieter sales in the home market, with 2.4% less sold in France, was offset by a switch to higher-value labels but the brutal devaluation of sterling saw UK sales down 14% in value to €440m from €512m… and champagne overtaken by prosecco.

The industry group Comité Champagne said bubbling sales worldwide marked economic growth in many markets, with New Zealand up 25%, South Africa up 15%, South Korea up 14%, Mexico 12%, Canada 9% and US 5% (the leading global market with €540m of sales). Brazil, however, was down 22% and Portugal 16%.

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In the UK, The Caterer magazine said the premium end of the market was holding up but shoppers were “walking away from cut-price champagne, and that aggressive discounting tactics are no longer effective”.

This pleases champagne producers and exporters who have sought to avoid concentrating on sales volume and UK Comité Champagne director Françoise Peretti said: “Volume is nice but, for the good of champagne, it must always take second place.”

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