Sales of Champagne hit a new high in 2017, with turnover setting a new record at €4.9bn ($6bn), according to the Comité Champagne. The sales were driven by exports, which were up €2.8bn or 6.6% compared with 2016.
Notably, while the UK remains the number two market for Champagne by value, sales fell by 5.7% - or €20m - thanks to the ‘Brexit effect’, with volumes down 11%. Sales in France itself were stable, while value increased slightly in Germany, Italy grew by 9.7%.
But spectacular growth was to be found in Asia, where overall volumes were up 15.5% in volume and 19.2% in value.
“Our future is in the USA, Japan and China, but not in Europe,” Jean-Marie Barillère, President of Comité Champagne told a press conference at ProWein, adding that growth was coming from the USA, Australia, Korea, Japan and Russia in particular. “Champagne’s volume can’t increase, so we need to maintain value.”
The US remains the number one export by value (€586m), an increase of 8.5%. Japan is in third place, showing strong growth in both volume (17.6%) and value (21.3%). The ‘Chinese triangle’ of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan showed growth of 26.7% in value.
“We’ll keep up the work was have done so far,” said Barillère. “We have a lot of work to do, such as tasting events. This is on the way – but China is a huge country.”
Exports to South Korea were even more remarkable, with a growth of 39.5% in value, with sales topping the million bottle mark for the first time.
Barillère noted that the countries that were proving excellent destinations for Champagne were those whose economies were doing well. “You need to have good morale and a good economy,” he said.
The success was not shared equally by everyone in Champagne, he admitted in response to a press question about who in the region was seeing the growth. “It’s quality houses and co-ops – those in the lower range are suffering,” he said. Barillère added that the gains were going to the most dynamic wineries.
As for the future, both he and Maxime Toubart of Comité Champagne, said that the region was focusing on sustainability and looking at ways to lower pesticide use. Attracting investment is another issue.
“We want our region to be a region where people feel comfortable investing,” said Toubart.
With such financial results, Champagne has no doubt achieved that. Since 2005, regional turnover has risen by €1bn and growth remains strong.