Sales Down – Champagne Up!

Sales Down – Champagne Up!

This chap at marvellous Champagne Eric Rodez in Ambonnay seems at least content if not smug. Not so a recent comment piece on Wine-Searcher by Caroline Henry bemoaning a recent mini-slump in worldwide champagne sales.
It’s true sales have seen 27m bottles fewer in 2023 than the 326m of 2022, an 8.3% drop after a near-record year – 2022 was the second best ever for Champagne. And the start of 2024, the piece says, continues the slide.

What did the writer expect? Most of us without a decree in Econometrics don’t struggle to remember the explosion of joy and champagne celebration which followed COVID-19. Or the steep inflation of world goods and fuel prices since the Ukraine invasion. Champagne prices rose well over 10%. Most people’s ability to pay them declined. Sales down is a no-brainer. But not according to this piece – it’s all blamed on consumers thinking quality has not gone up to match the price hikes, so they think it’s poor value.

Funnily, enough, prices also rose while Champagne was selling shedloads in 2022. And overall , in 2022 hugely increased its take to €6.3bn and has more or less maintained that, in spite of selling 8.3% less volume. In other words, Champagne has pulled off the trick other wine sectors can only dream of – selling less but taking more money, and by some margin. It’s clear many consumers are cash-strapped and cut out or down on champagne. But it’s also true other consumers are able and content to pay the new prices. Particularly those relatively affluent champagne drinkers outside France – exports have risen last year to a record 57.4%. Maybe this piece needed to think a little more about how to explain that not all of us behave like others – for economists, the starting point of analysis, if not journalists.

Even more curious is the article’s myopia in blaming solely Champagne for its sales correction and downturn. The first question you would ask, surely, is what’s going down elsewhere? California right now has a huge crisis of grape and wine oversupply. And a similar glut of unsold wines from Bordeaux and the Languedoc is currently being bailed out by the French government funding a massive 3m hectolires distillation programme. There are similar situations wordwide.

Why doesn’t this article see that? Or choose not to? Search me. Search Wine-Searcher.

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