Sales of Champagne fell by almost 4% in the first half of 2023, sparking fears global economic challenges are taking their toll on the category.
Regional trade organisation Comité Champagne said in a statement that Champagne shipments in the first half of 2023 were 125.8 million bottles, which was a decrease of 4.7% compared to the same period in 2022.
The drop was most pronounced in Champagne’s domestic market, with France seeing a decline of 6.3%, to total 48.1 million bottles, while exports, with 77.7 million bottles, have seen a drop of 3.7%.
Comité Champagne said: “These results are to be put into perspective in comparison with an extraordinary 2022 (at the period of time last year, sales were up almost 14%).”
“The fall in shipments, for France, is attributed to inflation,” a Comite Champagne spokesperson added in a statement to Reuters. “For export, it is difficult to say because the comparisons are for the year 2022, which was a year when exports were very high in the first half. We rather think that after the post-COVID ‘party,’ the situation becomes more normal.”
The region of Champagne has capped yields for its impending harvest at 11,400kg/ha, which is roughly equivalent to 326 million bottles. This is a drop of 5% on 2022, when yields were capped at 12,000kg/ha, producing around 343 million bottles.
Comité Champagne co-president David Chatillon said: “To determine the available yield for the year, winegrowers and houses have agreed on shipping forecasts for the next four years that take into account both our confidence in the appellation, and a certain caution with regards to the global economic situation and the effects of inflation,” he said.
The Australian story
Australia is the sixth biggest market for Champagne exports, but there are signs its dizzy growth is slowing as inflation hits hip pockets.
During Endeavour Group’s Q3 results presentation, CEO Steve Donohue revealed customer behaviour was changing in Dan Murphy’s and BWS stores due to cost of living pressures.
He said there had been a shift away from high-end French champagne purchases due to price rises of between 10-15%, with many customers substituting Australian sparkling in their shopping baskets.
“It has reached that inflection where people are willing to try premium Australian sparkling and in so doing are discovering it is a very good product and are sticking with it,” Donohue said.
It’s a stark contrast to Christmas 2022, which Philippe Schaus, president and chief executive of Moet Hennessy recently likened to the “roaring twenties” in terms of champagne consumption.