Champagne sales stay flat despite economic recovery

Shipments of the bubbly stuff to Ireland remain flat despite with consumption down again in 2014


The return of domestic demand may being adding a degree of fizz to the economy but Irish drinkers are shunning Champagne, the popularity of which was once a potent symbol of boomtime merriment. Despite the upsurge in economic growth in 2014, Champagne consumption dropped again.

On this national day of days, when a spike in stout sales might well be expected, consider the fate of Champagne in Ireland.

Industry figures from France point to a steep decline in shipments of the bubbly stuff to Ireland since the heady days of the property bubble. In 2014, even property recovered somewhat, but the number of bottles of Champagne shipped to Ireland from France dropped to 388,628 from 415,604 in 2013. The value of sales dropped to €6.68 million from €7.06 million.

The Champagne business in general had an effervescent time of it in 2014, recording its second best sales performance. Annual turnover came in at €4.5 billion in 2014, including €2 billion in France. Shipments worldwide advanced 1 per cent to 307 million bottles, with sales rising in Britain, the US and Japan.

But not in Ireland.

Data from the Comité Champagne, the trade association and semi-autonomous public body, show sales in Ireland reached their zenith in 2007, with sales of 1.08 million bottles, or €18 million. In 2006, too, it was almost a million-bottle year in luxury-loving Ireland.

As disaster struck in 2008, however, Champagne shipments to Ireland dropped to 868,890 bottles and sales to €15.29 million. Another year of serious decline followed in 2009, with shipments reaching 337,323 and sales plummeting to €5.05 million. Such trends may well have been accompanied by an increase in the consumption of “lesser” sparkling wines and other imitation fluids. But these are not tracked by the Comité, whose motto insists: “Champagne only comes from Champagne, France.”

Shipments from France to Ireland advanced to 421,142 bottles in 2010, the year of the bailout, and continued rising to a recent high of 489,257, before declining again.

Data from the Irish Wine Association suggests “sparkling” wine commands only 2 per cent of the Irish wine market, but it’s telling indicator all the same.