The 3.8 percent drop observed over the first eleven months of the year actually fell further, to -4.4 percent for the calendar year because of an 8.8 percent decline in December. A total 308.8 million bottles of Champagne were shipped in 2012 with an ex-cellar value of 4.37 billion euros. Although turnover showed no progress on 2011, it was significantly up on previous years, revealing an underlying trend towards trading up.
Undoubtedly, Champagne was a collateral victim of economic uncertainty, primarily in France and Europe, its major markets. Despite market diversification in recent years, over 75 percent of Champagne sales still occur within the European Union and France alone claims a 55.5 percent share. So, when French sales drop by 5.6 percent and EU purchases fall by a further 7.1 percent, the impact on overall sales is tremendous.
It is not all gloom and doom though in Champagne. If the upbeat image projected by the marketing board is to be believed, the industry is particularly cheered by progress in non-EU markets and by stability in value sales in 2012 despite the volume shortfall. Exports outside the EU totalled 61 million bottles, up 3.2 percent and reaching an all-time high. They now account for 20 percent of overall Champagne shipments and are becoming increasingly diversified. The region’s geographical net has been flung further afield with exports now reaching countries such as Mexico and Nigeria, as well as the more classic destinations of Japan and China. Australia and Russia are also prominent buyers of Champagne; together, non EU-countries achieved both volume and value increases.
The marketing board certainly has more reasons than one to keep a smile on its face: not only are value sales continuing to follow an upward trend over the long term and not-EU markets increasingly lucrative, Champagne still ranks top of the league table for value consignments, non only in France but worldwide.