Jan 29: Though the sale of champagne in 2020 is estimated to be 18% lower at 245 million bottles in 2020, the fall is not as drastic as predicted 6 months ago at 200 million, and the overall drop in sales value at €1 billion at €4 billion compared to the earlier estimated fall of €1.7 billion, writes Subhash Arora who expects the drop to be over 30-40% in India due to extended closure of hotels, restaurants and retail sales, with big banquets, weddings and events banned and no online sales allowed to boost the availability and consumption
It’s generally said that Champagne is a celebratory drink though the producers and regular drinkers profess it to be a daily drink. Covid-19 did not leave much to celebrate and perhaps this caused a massive drop in consumption. to After touching a high of 339 million bottles sold in 2009 and crossing the sale of 300 million bottles every year from 2004 to 2018 (barring 293 million bottles sold in 2009-during global meltdown), the sales hit the nadir for the first time during this millennium, thanks to Covid which saw the closure of hotels and restaurants and absence of banquets and big events. Last year, over 297 million were sold. In August 2020, the estimates were revised to 200 million, prompting Comité Champagne (CIVC) to take appropriate measures
There has been a significant drop in the sale at 20% each in the US and UK and as high as 28% in Japan. Despite the threat of hiking up the import duties in the US to 100%, it was not carried out by the former President Trump; else the drop could have been disastrous. Also, sales in the UK picked up handsomely during the traditional Christmas period.
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The drop has been less severe in Germany (15%), Switzerland (9%) and Belgium (5%). On the other hand, Australian market experienced a significant growth of 14%. French market had already seen a drop in consumption due to the health reasons and economic uncertainties before the Covid and the domestic market has also seen a drop of 20%.
The Comité Champagne (CIVC) met on Tuesday and said it was a wise decision taken in July anticipating this fall to adjust the grape harvest volumes for 2020 and distribute between growers and champagne houses. It was also decided to augment the capped harvest of 8 tons/hA by using 400 kilos/hA from the grape reserve of Interprofessionnel.
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“Faced with an unprecedented crisis, the organisation of our sector has proved its resilience. Together, the Champagne winegrowers and houses took wise decisions about yields last year. The adjustment that the Comité Champagne has agreed on today will give everyone a certain room for manoeuvre,” said Maxime Toubart, co-president of the Comité Champagne and president of the Syndicat Général des Vignerons de la Champagne (General Union of the Champagne Winemakers), according to the Press Release.
“Despite the crisis, Champagne remains dear to the hearts of consumers who feel the need to keep something exceptional in their everyday lives, to choose quality products when so many other pleasures are unavailable due to the health crisis. It is the strength and power of our appellation to be the champion of prestige and above all quality among our consumers,” added Jean-Marie Barillère, co-president of the Comité Champagne and president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (Association of Champagne houses)
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It’s not feasible to compare the drop in export figure in India because the main importer, Moet Hennessey does not disclose its figures and the annual calendar is from April-Mar when the estimates are compiled. But in India, it is still considered a luxury drink with the off-trade prices starting generally from $ 85 and restaurants pricing them upwards of $140 for an ordinary NV champagne. However, based on the estimates from other importers, the drop is likely to be between 30-40%. Part of the reason is also the local variant of Moet Chandon- Chandon Brut and Chandon Brut Rose which offer a relatively good value at $16-18 a bottle. Of course, according to the rules of CIVC, these bubblies are known as sparkling wines, using Chenin Blanc and other wine grapes but using Traditional Method.
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