Prosecco gains ground as Champagne sales drop by 20% in France

Shoppers are swerving the more-expensive drink for less-costly alternatives, figures show

A view of glasses full of cold sparkling wine
Cheaper alternatives to Champagne are on the up, figures show
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Champagne has long been known as a top-tier tipple, but sales of the iconic drink are down 20% in France as people turn towards the less-expensive but still-sparkling alternative, Prosecco.

Prosecco - a sparkling wine that is traditionally from Italy - is usually around four to five times’ cheaper than Champagne.

A new market report from NielsenIQ shows that volume sales of Champagne dropped by 20.7% across all French supermarket channels from January 1 to December 3. And while Champagne sales in supermarkets only account for 27% of total sales of the drink in France, they do give an indication of the trend for the market as a whole, the report said.

In contrast, sales of other sparkling wines such as crémant and prosecco rosé by almost 9.6% from January to November 2023, suggesting that some shoppers have been switching from Champagne to cheaper alternatives, largely because of the rising cost of living and dropping purchasing power.

Other alternatives to Champagne in France include Crémant d'Alsace, blanquette de Limoux, and clairette de Die.

Read more: French sparkling wines to rival Champagne on price and taste

Figures from consumer analyst firm Circana show that the average price of a litre of Champagne sold in supermarkets in 2023 was €30, compared to an average of €6.46 a litre for a sparkling wine from another region.

The results have even led producers to revise their forecasts downwards, despite appearing “cautiously optimistic” at the start of the year.

At the start of the summer, the French interprofessional group Comité Champagne had predicted bottle shipments in France to drop by around 6% by 2023 (130 million units compared to 138.4 million in 2022). However, if the current trend continues, this figure could instead fall to 110 million.

Downward trend

This year’s figures follow a wider trend in France - apart from the post-Covid year of 2021, which saw Champagne sales jump by 25%. Before the pandemic, sales had been falling for four years (the number of Champagne bottles sold dropped from 47 million to 37 million between 2011 and 2022).

“Champagne is struggling because it is too expensive for many French people," said Dominique Schelcher, CEO of supermarket group Système U, to BFMTV. “Other sparkling wines are on the up, such as Crémant d’Alsace.”

The retailer is planning extra promotions on all sparkling wines, “especially for New Year”, he said.

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