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French Champagne’s record €5.5bn year is ‘victory for good living’

Industry expert says that 2021 sales are likely to be the ‘best ever year for Champagne’ – a marked improvement after the sector was badly hit during the first lockdown in 2020

A Champagne bottle pouring into several glasses

The success of Champagne this year is even more unexpected given the major impact suffered by the sector last year Pic: Tristan Gassert / Unsplash

The Champagne industry is celebrating an excellent year after suffering negatively last year as a result of the health crisis, in an update that industry experts are calling “a victory for good living”.

Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Champagne house union le Union des Maisons de Champagne told 20 Minutes that the year 2021 had been a record in terms of sales numbers, and “the best year” the sector has ever known.

The success is even more unexpected given the major impact suffered by the sector last year, as Covid lockdowns shut bars, restaurants, and nightclubs for months. 

The first lockdown saw demand drop by 20%, and production by 50%, Mr Barillère said. Yet, the second lockdown had less of an effect, and the third almost none at all, he said.

And the industry has recovered extremely well in 2021, which Mr Barillère has said is a sign of people enjoying life despite being more likely to stay at home.

He estimated that figures for 2021 are likely to be “higher than €5.5billion, for a volume of around 320 million bottles”. In terms of sales, “that is the best year for Champagne”, and “the fourth or fifth best year” in terms of volume.

He said: “Month after month, demand seemed to be getting stronger and stronger. Especially in terms of home consumption, as there was a third lockdown in many countries at the beginning of 2021, which had absolutely no impact. 

“Sales were actually rising, and we tried to understand why. In fact, consumers had a different appreciation of life than in the past. In other words, they were enjoying eating and drinking and …socialising [at home].

“Moreover, it seems that the new warnings against the arrival of the Omicron variant have so far had no impact on demand. 

“Good sales for Champagne are a victory for good living.”

Like many sectors, the industry has been hit by logistical difficulties, but Mr Barillère said that there had been no real shortages in terms of bottles.

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