UK EU Champagne Exports Dive in 2012


UK champagne makers had another down year in 2012 and there are signs that the export slump is not about to turn around anytime soon. We can blame the export dilemma on the French but it is UK champagne producers who are feeling the pain.

The French are undergoing their highly publicized austerity issues. Politicians and the general citizenry have resisted it to great extremes but the troubled economy and massive unemployment is definitely reflected in changing lifestyle choice.

Total Export Units Sink

One of the casualties is the champagne market. UK champagne exports fell substantially in 2012. Export sales were trimmed by 14 million units compared to 2011.

Champagne providers put part of the blame on sinking sales in November and December, a time when champagne exports and sales are typically at the market peak. Not all the champagne export news is negative but inside the EU, there was a definite problem.

For example, sales of champagne fell sharply in 2012. The Comite Interprofessional du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) reported that total shipments of champagne amounted to 308.8 million units. This represents a decline of 4.4 pe4rcent. The decline in France was 10 million bottles, down 5.6 percent from 2011 exports. The French market typically accounts for about 55 percent of global shipments.

The financially strapped European Union has taken austerity to new levels. Champagne sales fell in the EU by a surprising 7.1 percent in 2012. By all accounts, the projections for 2013 are not promising for the industry.

Emerging Champagne Markets

However, outside the EU, UK exports gained some strength and some encouraging momentum. In terms of total monetary value, the UK champagne industry held their ground quite well. Total domestic and international sales amounted to €4.37bn in 2012.

Manufacturers described sales as “very satisfactory.” The lack of export trade in the EU was balanced by significant increases in shipments outside the EU. In these markets, shipments were up by 1.9 million units, an increase of 3.2 percent.

Markets where UK manufacturers succeeded were Japan and Australia. Even more encouraging for exporters was the response of emerging markets where austerity is giving way to growth. The biggest emerging markets were China, Russia, Mexico and Nigeria.

The CIVC said; “The volume decline was expected because of ‘the hard economic environment’ and highlighted an increase in average per bottle prices which reinforced the strategy of creation of value and the development of the Champagne prestige.”

The champagne industry may be sending a signal to other UK exporters that there are new markets waiting for our goods. The time to reach out is now.


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