According to the estimates released by Comité Champagne this past week, Champagne shipments worldwide, including the French market, fell by 6 million bottles in the past 12 months compared to the same period in 2015, when the region shipped a total of 312.5m bottles.
The final figure of 306.6m for 2016 means that Champagne sales have now dropped back below 2014’s total, which amounted to 307.1m bottles, taking the region even further from its record, which was achieved ten years ago in 2007, when it shipped almost 338.8m bottles (see figures below).
Explaining the fall in the number of bottles shipped in 2016, Jean-Marie Barillère, who is president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, told Drinks Business that the decline was a result of falling sales in the French and British markets.
“The total decrease has been done by France and England,” he said.
As much as two thirds of the 6m global decline can be attributed to France alone, which sold 4m fewer bottles in 2017 – last year’s domestic market for Champagne totaled 158m bottles, compared to 162m in 2016.
Meanwhile, Barillère recorded that Champagne shipments to the UK alone had fallen by around 3m bottles, in contrast to other European nations such as Spain and Italy, which, he said, had enjoyed increases, meaning that the EU (excluding France) accounted for 77.5m bottles in 2016, down from 80.2m in 2015.
Outside its domestic market and Europe, Champagne did enjoy growth in 2016, but with a modest 0.5% increase, this represented an extra 600,000 bottles from 70.3m in 2015 to 70.9m last year.
Although the figures for value have yet to be released, Barillère said that the total would be down by 1-2% due to exchange rates, although he stressed that 2017 would be Champagne’s second highest ever year for turnover, having set a new record in 2016, when it reached €4.75 billion.
Indeed, if the drop was the full 2%, a total of €4.65bn for 2016 would still surpass the previous record set in 2007, when sales reached €4.56bn prior to the global financial slowdown.
The decline in shipments for 2016 has surprised some in the region, particularly as the yields set in June last year for the 2016 harvest were designed to deliver a production of 315m bottles, slightly higher than the shipment total for 2015.
Usually the yields are set to bring about a supply of Champagne that is similar if not a bit higher than the current demand.
Explaining why the yields were set to produce 315m bottles, Michel Letter, managing director of Mumm and Perrier Jouët, told db that the global market for Champagne was looking more promising in May and June last year when the yields were set*, adding that the French and UK markets had declined more than expected, while the US had not risen as much as many in Champagne had initially thought.
Summing up, he admitted, “We were a bit optimistic”.
* The yield for the 2016 harvest was set in June at 9,700 kilos per hectare with a further 1,100kg/ha to be taken from the reserve at the start of February. This produces approximately 283m bottles from the harvest with a further 32m bottles coming from the reserve, making a total production of 315m bottles.
Figures from the Comité Champagne for 2016, with % change compared to 2015:
Total shipments for 2016: 306.6m bottles (down 1.9%)
Total revenue (estimate) €4.65 billion (down 2%)
France: 158.1 million bottles (down 2.3%)
EU countries (other than France): 77.5 million bottles (down 3.3%)
Exports outside the EU: 70.9 million bottles (up 0.5%)
Champagne global shipments over the past 11 years (volume, bottles)
Champagne global shipments over the past 11 years (value, Euros)
Sources: The Drinks Business – January 2017, and
Comité Champagne (CIVC)