Millennials are vital to Champagne’s future  

“Millennials are vital to Champagne’s future… because they are willing to look beyond the ‘just for celebrations’ mantra,” states Françoise Peretti, Director of the UK’s Champagne Information Bureau.

Millennials are deemed to be more digitally connected and open-minded than baby boomers.

Peretti further stressed the need to attract a younger generation of drinkers, and the potential demand among “open-minded” millennials.

“Unlike the Baby Boomers, they are open-minded consumers, willing to look beyond the ‘just for celebrations’ mantra,” she said of the age group, which covers those people from their early 20s to late 30s.

“This is their most important attribute: a desire to embrace the idea that Champagne can be a drink for the weekend, not simply New Year.”

Mentzendorff’s Andrew Hawes, who is the current chairman of the Champagne Agents Association believes that grower Champagnes are the key to unlocking the millennial market.

Hawes states “A quiet revolution has been building in the independent sector over the past few years.”  He further adds, “Independents are selling more and more grower Champagne to millennials – they are naturally drawn to the ‘craft’ credentials of smaller brands.”

In the US, Chicago-based sommelier Zach Jones recorded a similar development, and he goes on to say,  “Grower Champagne has had a huge surge in popularity with younger drinkers in the US, because there is a great story to tell and it gives younger consumers the sense that they are supporting a small family winery, not a massive machine.”

Sources:
Drinks Ontario
Champagne Information Bureau – UK

Good News: South Africa wine exports go-ahead during lockdown

The South African wine industry has been given authorization to export wines during the country’s current lockdown.

Following intense lobbying of the South Africa government by an Industry Exporters Task Team, the Minister of Transport stated in a release yesterday, April 7: “During the lockdown period, the transportation of the wines and any other fresh produce products at the seaports and international Airports Designated as Port of Entry for export is allowed.”

“Agricultural Cargo is allowed to be transported to seaports and International Airports Designated as Ports of Entry and exported to the relevant destination.”

The move is important for South Africa’s wine producers and fruit farmers as much of their produce is exported, and 50% of all wine produced is exported.

Rico Basson of Vinpro, which represents 3,500 members of the South African wine industry, tweeted, “We are very grateful for the dispensation to allow the exports of South African Wine”.

A statement from The Exporters Task Team also praised the decision: “Government and all the respective role-players [have shown] an understanding for the industry’s challenges through this concession, as nearly half of South Africa’s wine production is exported and a restriction on exports would have a severe effect on wine-related businesses, but most importantly the livelihood of close to 300,000 people employed by the wine industry value-chain.”

The Task Team emphasized that it recognized “the severity” of the Covid-19 pandemic, asking all businesses and people to “strictly adhere to the regulations” set out by government to ensure the safety of all employees during the lockdown.

Describing the development as “very good news for the industry”, Wines of South Africa‘s (WoSA) UK market manager Jo Wehring clarified that, “this exemption only relates to finished product that is ready for shipping in either bulk or packaged format”, adding it is “a massive step in the right direction and will bring much relief”.

WoSA recently announced that the 2020 vintage would deliver ‘exceptional wines’, after a last minute concession from government allowed harvesting to take place.

Champagne exports overtake domestic consumption in 2018

Estimated figures for total shipments during 2018 show that more Champagne was consumed in foreign markets than France for the first time in over 50 years.

The two presidents of the Comité Champagne, Maxime Toubart and Jean-Marie Barillère announced last week that declining shipments in mature European markets – especially France – and growth in countries such as Australia, US and Japan, had affected the balance of global Champagne consumption.

Most notably, it had tipped the scales in favour of exports, with, from this year, more Champagne shipped to countries outside the domestic market than were sent to the trade in France.

Because, according to Barillère, France had consumed more Champagne than the rest of the world combined since the middle of the last century, this recent development was a major milestone.

“Exports have overtaken France for the first time,” he said, before adding, “Well, since the early part of last century – when Champagne was mostly exported, and not consumed very widely in France,” he stated.

“It was in the 1920s that the French market for Champagne developed, and grew and grew, and from the start of the 60s France became the largest market in the world for Champagne,” he continued.

This prompted Toubart to add, “So, it is the first time in the modern history of Champagne that exports have been bigger than France.”

Domestic sales for Champagne have also been on an almost steady decline since a peak in 2007, when France consumed as much as 188m bottles of the fizz, compared to 150m by the rest of the world. Driving the growth in exports for Champagne have been markets outside Europe, in particular, the US, Japan and Australia, although increasing sales in a range of smaller emerging markets have also contributed.

Indeed, it is an evolution that proves the increasingly global nature of Champagne consumption, making, as reported last year, Champagne sales “more balanced” than ever before, with 30 markets now consuming over 0.5m bottles annually.

Looking ahead, Barillère expects the spread of Champagne consumption to become even more evenly split between the major areas of the world.

“We saw last year that exports of Champagne to Europe were overtaken by those to ‘the rest of the world’, and now we see that total exports are now bigger than the French market,” he began.

“If this trend continues, then in 10-20 year’s Champagne will be one-third France, one-third Europe, and one-third the rest of the world, or it could be higher], depending on where there is wealth development,” he added.

Toubart said that markets outside Europe were growing because the houses had redirected their marketing investments from France to US and Asian markets.

“The French market is decreasing, and so Champagne houses have invested a lot of money in new countries,” he commented.

Barillère explained, “The maisons have focused their marketing activities on countries where there is growth in GDP, and population development, and where the level of wine consumption is growing – it’s why, for example, we have invested in the US.”

The French market for Champagne has been declining for two main reasons.

Firstly, the sales of grower Champagnes direct to consumers in France has diminished, and secondly, the number of promotions on entry-level Champagnes in French supermarkets have fallen, in line with a reputed fatigue among domestic consumers for the retail technique.

While Champagne is seeing shipments decline for inexpensive Champagne in mature markets, the premium branded sector is doing well, both in Europe, but, as noted above, particularly in the US, Japan and Australia.

As a result, Barillère said that turnover for Champagne in 2018 was “stable”, and may even have increased to a level slightly above last year, which was a new record for Champagne.

In other words, the region may have lost more than 5m bottles in shipments for 2018, but the past year could represent the largest ever turnover for Champagne, with the higher revenue accounted for by sales of more branded bottles, and an increased demand for pricier cuvées, especially from consumers in countries outside Europe.

Source: Drinks Business

Another Record year in Cognac: 200 million bottles shipped

For the fourth straight year, exports of Cognac have continued their steady rise

For the fourth straight year, exports of Cognac have continued their steady rise, with an increase of 8.2% in volume and 5.4% in value. The previous record of bottles shipped (200 million) has been surpassed, with 205.9 million bottles shipped between August 2017 and July 2018. With 3.2 billion euros (roughly 300 billion dollars) in revenue, Cognac contributes significantly to France’s trade surplus in the wines and spirits sector, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total value of French wine and spirits exports and placing Cognac at the top of the major appellations.

Cognac consolidated its position in the NAFTA zone with 89.8 million bottles shipped. This translates to an increase of 9.4% in volume and 0.2% in value, in the 9th consecutive year of growth2. The United States remains the leading market, with 86.5 million bottles shipped during the period. “The brown spirits category is growing in the US market. The historical presence of cognac and the constant investment by the Cognac houses in this market have reinforced the performance of cognac in the U.S.,” explains Patrick Raguenaud, President of the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

The East Asian market continues to grow, with 60.9 million bottles shipped (an increase of 13.5% in volume and 12.4% in value). China is driving growth in this zone, with nearly 26.2 million bottles shipped. For Patrick Raguenaud, “these good results confirm China’s continued appetite for Cognac, even with transitions currently taking place in that market.”

Shipments to continental Europe remain stable with a slight loss of 2.0% in volume but a rise of 3% in value, for a total shipment of more than 41.3 million bottles. These results are due to a small decrease in exports to western and northern Europe and growth in Russia and Latvia. “Particularly in the United Kingdom, our largest European market, shipments remain stable, despite the uncertainties of Brexit,” says Patrick Raguenaud.

Significant potential for development in the rest of the world

Increased exports also continue in other areas, with strong potential for Cognac in countries such as South Africa, Vietnam, Oceania and the Caribbean4. Exports to these markets rose by 12.2% in volume and 5.3% in value. All together, these promising markets represent more than 6.7% of total exports, or nearly 13.9 million bottles.

Exports increase for all categories: V.S., V.S.O.P. and Hors d’Âge

Representing 50% of total volume, the V.S., V.S.O.P. and older categories—including Napoléon, X.O. and Hors d’Âge—continue to play a prominent role in Cognac’s strong performance5. The success of V.S. (minimum 2 years aging) cognac continues to be driven by the North American market–which accounts for half of all cognac shipments—growing in volume by 6% and in value by 4.1%.

Representing a little less than 40% of the production, V.S.O.P. (minimum 4 years aging) shipments increased by 10% in volume and 2.1% in value. Napoléon (minimum 6 years aging), X.O. and Hors d’Âge (minimum 10 years aging, respectively) are also experiencing significant growth with a rise of 12.4% in volume and 10.3% in value, thanks to strong results in East Asia.

According to Patrick Raguenaud, «the good momentum we are experiencing today in these three quality-designated categories can be explained by cognac’s strength in all markets, with varied consumption patterns.

Cognac: spearheading French wine and spirits exports

According to the Fédération des Exportateurs de Vins et Spiritueux de France (Federation of Exporters of Wines and Spirits of France) and the Fédération Française des Spiritueux (French Federation of Spirits), 2017 saw French spirits exports reach new records and break the € 4 billion mark, for a total of 437 million liters (an increase of 2.4%). Cognac, accounting for 70% of the value of spirits exports, gave a strong boost to the overall value. In addition, Cognac now represents nearly a quarter of the total value of all French wine and spirits exports.

Christophe Forget, Vice President of the BNIC, comments on cognac’s growth, which confirms its dynamism and international influence: “Cognac growers and négociants are confident in their future prospects and continue to fully invest in the development of the appellation, the markets and the quality of their products.”

 

Source: Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

Champagne shipments for 2017

The final figures for Champagne shipments in 2017 were recently announced.

Total sales amounted to 307.3 million bottles, which is + 0.4% compared to 2016.

The French market dropped by 2.5% with 153.7 million bottles. “A decline stronger than expected due to disappointing sales in December,” commented Maxime Toubart, president of the Syndicat Général des Vignerons, co-president of the Comité Champagne.

The export, up 3.5%, nearly equals France with 153.6 million bottles. The growth drivers are confirmed outside the European Union (- 1.3% with 76.6 million bottles), since other countries now exceed EU, increasing by nearly 9% to reach 77 million of bottles.

Jean-Marie Barillère, president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, co-president of the Comité Champagne, is pleased that “thanks to the export and the valuation of its cuvées, Champagne achieves the record turnover of 4.9 billion Euros “.

Data by export country will be available in the next few weeks.

 

Liz Palmer’s multi-award winning book “The Ultimate Guide To Champagne