Champagne shipments were down just 1.53% in 2013 to 303,870,438 bottles, according to figures just released by the CIVC, Champagne’s governing body. The French domestic market was down by 2.43% to 167,093,159 bottles but total export shipments only fell 0.42% to 136,776,979 bottles. Shipments to the UK market were down by 5.13% to 30,786,727 bottles, dropping from 32,445,352 in 2012, the lowest level they have been at, bar 2009 when the financial slump hit sales, since 2001.
The UK is still by far the most significant export market in terms of volume, shipments to the number two market the USA which rose by just 0.93% are still over 12.9m bottles lower. In general, as expected, it is the mature European markets that fared worse with Germany and Spain down 1.57 and 1.92% respectively and Italy falling back further again – by 14.18% to 5,359,536 bottles, after a drop of over 18% in 2012. Belgium bucks the European trend with a 14.15% rise to 9,525,304 bottles.
Outside Europe the market for champagne in Japan and Australia remains buoyant with shipments to the latter, the sixth most important export market now, up 11.4% following on from 11.2% growth in 2012 and a 31.9% spurt in 2011. The Japanese market also continued to grow with shipments up 6.75% to 9,674,446 bottles.
In terms of value because of the higher average bottle price — consumers there favour more expensive rosé champagne and prestige cuvées — Japan may well have overtaken Germany as the third most important export market in terms of value. Those detailed figures are not available yet but with average shipment prices at €19.19 in Japan versus Germany’s €14.83 in 2012, the gap in terms of Euros between the two was less than €14m though over 3.5m more bottles went to Germany.
You can see why the Champenois like the Japanese market and that’s the reason Perrier-Jouët has just chosen to launch its new 2007 Belle Époque Edition Première there (a wine I tasted with winemaker Hervé Deschamps last Thursday in London of which more soon) in time for the Spring blossom. A few years ago Veuve Clicquot launched its non-vintage rosé in the Japanese market before releasing it anywhere else and the PJ has hint of pink from macerated Pinot Noir.
The feeling that the biggest houses are concentrating their efforts on the emerging markets like the BRIC countries and that this is where the growth is all going to come from in the short term took a blow. Shipments to China were down 18.35%, exports to Russia only up 4%, Brazil fell 0.46% and while India was up 5.36% shipments there still only reached a paltry 367,020 bottles.
When I spoke to Moët’s CEO Stéphane Baschiera on the telephone last month he mentioned that Mexico was a ‘priority market’ for the largest champagne brand. Perhaps therefore unsurprisingly the highest percentage growth achieved by any top 30 countries came in Mexico where shipments rose 31.18% to 1,137,845 bottles. That’s more than India and Brazil put together, though sitting together in 15th and 16th position in the top 30, China and Russia are still slightly larger at 1.63m and 1.54m bottles respectively. Shipments to the UK are however still more than five times larger than all five of these markets put together.