Champagne shipments will fall by around 3% in 2012 back to the level of 2005 and 2006.
Big in Japan: Belle Epoque
A poor November saw sales down year on year by between 6% and 7%, and overall sales during the year are expected to be between 312m and 314m bottles, 3% down.
When 42m bottles were sold in December 2012 it was the lowest figure for that month since 2004, said Michel Letter, managing director of Pernod Ricard-owned GH Mumm and Perrier-Jouët. ‘If we do the same this December, that will make 312m bottles for the whole year.’
With ‘a lot of promotion on the French market recently’ where prices in hypermarkets have regularly dropped below €10 a bottle, Letter expects that level at least to be reached.
‘This compares with 323m bottles last year, and while a lot of people will complain, it only takes us back to the shipment level in 2005/6 and is not too bad [given the widespread economic recession]. The problem is we have no idea of how things will develop next year.’
Letter reckoned the French economy is unlikely to recover next year, and while the US and Asia are doing well, with a 1% downturn in France – where 56% of all Champagne is sold – ‘you need a 10% increase in Asia to compensate’.
Europe is the most difficult market, Letter said, with France, the UK, Spain and Italy all showing falling sales of Champagne.
‘All the growth for the category is coming in markets outside Europe. Japan, Australia and China are all doing well.’
Exports for Japan, where the prestige cuvee Belle Epoque is Perrier-Jouët’s biggest seller, were up 26% in the first half of 2012. Australia was up by over 16%, Letter said.
Written by Giles Fallowfield