The volume of Champagne exports to the UK were down by 8.7% last year due to a reduction in sales of cut-price Champagne.
The premium end of the market is holding up well, however. This is according to 2016 shipment figures released today at Prowein from Comité Champagne, the trade association that represents the interests of independent Champagne producers and Champagne houses.
Volume of exports was down 8.7% from 34 million bottles in 2015 to 31 million in 2016, and value was down 14% from €512m (£445m) to €440m (£382m), due to the depreciation of sterling and reduction in sales of discounted, own label Champagne. However, UK customers are still the world's most avid consumers of Champagne despite volume decline.
The association said UK shoppers are walking away from cut-price Champagne, and that aggressive discounting tactics are no longer effective to attract customers and boost the volume of Champagne sales. It added that this will please the Champagne producers and exporters who have sought to resist the lure of sales volume, with the risk that this poses for Champagne's global market position.
Champagne Bureau director Françoise Peretti said: "Positive value is forever the defining objective for Champagne. Volume is nice but, for the good of Champagne, it must always take second place.
"It seems that UK customers are no longer seduced by the cut-price propositions but their appetite for premium-priced Champagnes is plainly growing with rosé and prestige cuvées gathering momentum.
"We should not be surprised. Champagne was always meant to be at the pinnacle. What we see here is a reinforcement of that special status in the minds of its most loyal customers."
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