Britain Still Consumes Most Champagne

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Forget the recession for just one moment. France is selling ever more Champagne around the world – and out front in the export stakes by a wide margin is still Great Britain.

Of the 141.3 million bottles that crossed the French border last year, 34.5 million bottles headed to the UK, which means for the past 16 years this country has consistently remained the number one Champagne market outside France – 78 per cent ahead of nearest rival the United States.

‘It’s a love story, it really is,’ comments UK Champagne Bureau Director Francoise Peretti. ‘Never mind the mood of austerity. Champagne shipments for 2011 closed within a whisker of the volume for 2010 – and that’s remarkable in the current economic climate.’

With big festive events to come this year – Olympics, Paralympics and Diamond Jubilee – the prospects for 2012 look even better. ‘Champagne is forever Britain’s first choice for celebration, and we have a great deal of celebrating to do.’

Countries all around the world are showing an ever-larger appetite for Champagne. In a year when Champagne exports as a whole rose by seven per cent, shipments to the US are up by 14.4 per cent, shipments to Japan are up by 6.7 per cent, and even Australia shows no sign of their thirst abating with Champagne sales Down Under up by a huge 32 per cent.

Meanwhile, Champagne volumes continue to define the ever-shifting league table of emerging economies. Shipments to India are up by 58 per cent, Malaysia up by 44 per cent. Volume is up by 31 per cent in South Korea, 20 per cent in Singapore and 15 per cent in Hong Kong.

That giant of the new world order China increased shipments by 19 per cent, to 1.3 million bottles. Russia saw an increase of 24 per cent, taking volumes to the same level as China’s.

None however are anywhere near catching up with the volume of Champagne shipped to Britain in 2011. This will be celebrated on March 14th, when leading Champagne figures descend on London to attend the Champagne Bureau’s trade and media annual tasting at Banqueting House. 79 brands will showcase 233 cuvées with vintages ranging from 1998 – 2007, uncorking over 6,000 bottles; appropriately, the largest Champagne event in Europe, for the largest Champagne export market.