Champagne Market Key Statistics

In this article we aim to look at the key metrics that relate to the Champagne market in France and the key Champagne market statistics. The information has been taken from a variety of winegrowers including our own family Champagne business in Festigny. Our family Champagne house entitled Neveux-Rousseau of course contributes to this data, if you would like to know more about our products you can learn more by clicking our labels page.

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There can be no drink that shouts celebration like Champagne does, it has captivated our interest for centuries and the statistics and financials behind the market are astounding. In this piece we aim to bring together a number of statistics to provide a comprehensive overview of the data and financials behind the industry. The Champagne production process is beyond the scope of this article, the Champagne Ardenne Tourism has an interesting summary here if you would like more information on it.

Champagne Market

We will commence with an overview of the French data and Champagne market statistics, covering all aspects from the workforce employed through to the value of the global Champagne market. Here, subjects including winegrowers and Champagne Houses will be covered among many other related areas. The UK market data concerns the consumption and purchase of all Champagne in the UK on a yearly basis, we will visit this after analysing the French production data.

Human Information

According to the wine-web there are 16,000 wine growers who are based near Reims in France. These wine growers produce grapes which go towards the production of over 300 million bottles of Champagne on a yearly basis. These 300 million doesn’t include of course the approximate 1 billion bottles resting and reaching maturity waiting for their time to return to the surface. The industry employs some 30,000 individuals where roughly half, or 15,000 are salaried. On top of this Champagne.fr reveals there are a further 120,000 seasonal workers.

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The grapes that make up this Champagne according to Reuters are harvested in huge quantities, yields can range from 8,000 kg to around 15,000 kg being sourced from each hectare (the upper cap is 15,500 kilos as per AOC regulations). The yield is a set amount as indicated by Champagne.fr with a maximum extraction of 102 litres of juice per 160 kg of picked grapes being the official policy.

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Champagne Houses

According to Wine Scholar, there currently exists approximately 350 Champagne houses, and Reims Tourism state that within the better known of these houses you will find a labyrinth of 250 km of cellars and various Gallo-Roman galleries. These Champagne houses can be defined according to Maisons Champagne as the part of the business whose main activity is the production of the Champagne, which may or may not be grown by themselves of course.

Champagne_Houses

The Champagne houses and their success is very top heavy as you would expect with the top 100 houses accounting for approximately two thirds of all Champagne sales, and more impressively these same Champagne houses account for 90% of export sales. When you look at this data in relation to Champagne house groups Maisons Champagne reveals that 5 large Champagne groups account for two thirds of turnover.

Data released by Huffington Post shows that 75% of the Champagne we drink comes from the big Champagne houses. Impressive statistics but clearly with such volumes it goes without saying that these top Champagne brands generally purchase rather than grow their own grapes. The Champagne Houses in the villages by contrast will typically grow their own grapes with many of them producing their Champagne with entirely their own produce.

In terms of figures and market statistics in relation to production, Maisons Champagne reveal some very interesting information. They show that the large Champagne Houses account for approximately 2/3 of the export volume, but these figures when translated into value increase to circa 3/4 of the share.

In contrast around 5% of turnover is attributed to around 30 smaller Champagne houses. These Houses will almost exclusively use their own grapes in the production of Champagne, this in many ways typifies the family owned nature of the industry which takes the process back to its roots, helping to strengthen and grow the region’s economic fabric in the process.

Production Area

The AOC vineyard production area according to Champagne.fr equates to just under 34,300 hectares. Geographically it is approximately 100 miles to the east of Paris, spreading over 319 villages across five departments. The distribution of the plantings is roughly as follows:

  • Marne – 66%
  • Aube – 23%
  • Aisne – 10%
  • Seine-et-Marne and Haute-Marne (remainder).

The effects in relation to land prices are huge, with prices per hectare outside of the dividing border being approximately £10,000 per hectare, reaching an average of £800,00 per hectare, or even up £8,000,000 as reported by Ideal Wine. The French Ministry of Agriculture has revealed exact figures, the information is very revealing and shows large disparities between land prices for wines, for example the same hectare in Bordeaux will cost £12,000 per hectare.

Interestingly, Gilles Flutet of the INAO commented the following in relation to the price of land:

“If your vines fall on the wrong side of the divide, they will be worth 5,000 euros ($7,800; £3,800) a hectare,” said Gilles Flutet of the INAO. “On the other side they will be worth 1m euros.”

2008 saw the announcement from the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne in relation to the expansion of the Champagne region. This was due to increased demand of their famous drink and an attempt to ensure that supply meets demand.

Harvest

It is known that yields on a yearly basis are limited by the Comité Champagne, a body which governs all aspects of production in Champagne. The harvest for 2019 has been hampered by the heatwave as the cellar master of Bollinger explained, as report by The Drinks Business:

“Last year was a very big one, and this year will be a small one,” he said.

“Yields for the appellation are 10,200kg/ha, but I am not sure that the appellation will reach that, and I don’t think we will reach that for Bollinger either,” he added.

Unprecedented heatwaves reaching record temperatures caused the berries to shrivel, although quality is expected to be high due to the expected perfect harvesting conditions, and also the relative high levels of acid and sugar in the fruit. in order to compensate for the reduced yields it is expected that producers will release wines from the reserves in order to increase the volumes and satisfy demand.

The process in place for the production of Champagne is that yields are set for each year, there is also the possibility of picking extra grapes. The idea of this is to keep these grapes picked as surplus should future harvests fall short in expected quantities.

Harvesting is also governed by strict rules, the crop itself must be picked entirely by hand. Teams work in pairs with them working row by row. Pickers cut the clusters with secateurs placing the yield in basket holding 2-3 kilos. According to Maisons Champagne a picker will be able to harvest 3,00 clusters in a given day, which equates to around 300-400 kilos, and this work will be continuous over a period of 12 days. Being by it’s nature very seasonal in terms of tasks, the 120,000 or so workers who take up these duties must of course be fed an accommodated, a test in logistics in itself.

Champagne Grape Varieties

It is known that plantings are typically selected in accordance with their compatibility of the local terroir and their immediate surroundings. The weightings for the various grapes are weighted roughly as follows. Pinot Noir accounts for approximately 38% of all the plantings, and the Montagne de Reims is the perfect environment for this grape as the cool chalky terrain suits it perfectly. The Pinot Noir is the grape variety that adds substance to the Champagne, with distinctive aromas and solid structures producing great wines.

Pinot Meunier accounts for 31% of all grape plantings and proves to be a solid and robust grape type. The hardy nature to this grape is perfectly suited to withstanding any cold spells in the weather and is suited to the argillaceous soils that can be found in the Marne Valley. this grape type brings a roundness to the Champagne blend, and the fruity end result has a tendency to age slightly quicker than the other two grape varieties.

Chardonnay is the final grape type and also accounts for approximately 31% of plantings. This grape variety is known as the grape variety that brings fragrant notes and produces wines of character. It also develops noticeably slower than the other two grape varieties, with the result being that the wines produced are perfect for ageing. Champagne.fr also notes that other grapes are approved to be considered a Champagne grape, and they include Petit Meslier, Arbane, Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc, although these account for less than 3% of all plantings.

Value

According to The Drinks Business shipments of Champagne fell slightly in 2018 to approximately 302 million bottles, however turnover increased by 0.3%, taking the Champagne overall market value to €4.9 billion. Champagne sales dipped slightly by 4% in France, which of course is the largest consumer of Champagne, this decrease of 4% was also reflected by the UK consumption figures, which is the largest export market for Champagne (in volume).


The price performance aspect of Champagne is interesting as the results have been consistently strong over the last 10 years. The chart below documents the price indices of various Champagne brands with the trend showing strong gains over the period in question. Some brands have had remarkable gains with Salon leading the way with an increase of 182%, other notable increases include Taittinger with 115% and Krug returning gains of 109%. Cristal performed poorly which will be in large part to their disputes which were shown in the public domain, although their ‘disappointing’ results were still a positive gain of 48%.

In relation to the volume statistics the UK imported 26.7m bottles, which in itself follows a decrease in 2017 as reported by Forbes, an effect of the ‘Brexit effect’ no doubt. Interestingly, this wasn’t due to us Brits cutting back on our drinking, as the Guardian reports we bought a record amount of sparkling wine in 2018, so the sales in Champagne shifted to other sparkling wines. Reports reveal that such figures were in some way replaced by the cheaper Prosecco sales, with Prosecco enjoying a growth of 50%in volume and 53% in value.

Some of the UK Champagne figures will have replaced with English Sparkling wine which enjoyed a significant 6% increase in volume of sales in 2018. This trend certainly continue as WineGB has officially announced that a staggering 3 million vines were planted around the UK in 2019. This level of wine planting makes England one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world, and with climate change pointing to warmer weather and a type of weather perfectly suited to wine growing, this pattern is only going to increase.

Champagne figures for 2019 show a trend that has changed little from previous years. The 12 months recorded to August 2019 show that the UK hospitality sector had a 4.4% decrease in Champagne sales with sales decreasing 2.8% in the same period. Contrary to the trend was the sales of rosé Champagne which enjoyed a trade sales increase of 0.5%, possibly due to drinkers looking for a drink to differentiate themselves with drinks that are regarded as more exclusive.

The USA is the largest export market in terms of value, with Japan, China and other Asian countries all experiencing strong growth, particularly in the luxury Champagne market. The trend for 2019 and the USA continues the same path that we saw in 2018, Shaken News reports a 3% increase for Champagne exports up until June 2019, with value noticing a marked increase of 16% amounting to €238.1 million ($264m).

Shaken News also reveal that one of the factors for this gain was driven by sales of Veuve Clicquot. Veuve Clicquot already accounted for the largest share of the market, they enjoyed a gain of 5.8% in terms of volume, and also a gain of 7.7% in terms of value.

In fact, certain reports are pointing to Japan overtaking the consumption of UK. Japan returned strong Champagne growth in 2017 in terms of value (21%) and volume (18%), with Asia in general enjoying strong growth in terms of value and volume with Japan returning the strongest results. This growth when put alongside the decline in the UK market sees it establish itself firmly as the 3rd biggest export market. This growth is not unexpected as Japan overtook Germany in 2016 and the growth shows no sign of abating.

This Asian growth is not exclusive to Japan, as we can see from the statistics in relation to the “Chinese world”. The Chinese world specifically relates to Hong Kong, China and Taiwan, and official data shows a collective increase of 22% in volume, coupled with an increase of 27% in terms of value, some astonishing figures to say the least. These figures collectively would make them the ninth largest market if it were recorded as a single country.

Other notable successes in this region include South Korea who enjoyed 1 million bottle sales for the very first time in 2017. South Africa also enjoyed a very successful year in terms of Champagne consumption, they mirror the South Korean success of hitting the 1 million bottles sales landmark figure, and this was a healthy increase of 38.4%

Another interesting statistic is that Champagne exports overtook the French consumption for first time for over 50 years. On this matter, Jean-Marie Barillère who is the President of Comité Champagne said the following as reported by The Drinks Business: “Exports have overtaken France for the first time,” he said, before adding, “Well, since the early part of last century – when Champagne was mostly exported, and not consumed very widely in France,” he stated.

“It was in the 1920s that the French market for Champagne developed, and grew and grew, and from the start of the 60s France became the largest market in the world for Champagne,” he continued.

This is no surprise to those who have been following the trends however, as the gap between the two markets has been closing for some time.

Before the start of the second world war shipments were roughly 2/3 for exports and 1/3 for French consumption. The post war period noted a remarkable increase in French consumption. This was attributed to improvements to the standard of living, and larger shipments by the wine growers and their associated co-operatives.

Champagne Market Statistics Forecast

Overall the Champagne market has performed steadily in the last decade, where it has seen decreases in certain markets it has enjoyed increases in others. For the future, predications are that the Champagne market will see more rigorous growth than it has experienced in recent years. One market which has enjoyed impressive growth and is likely to continue to enjoy sustained growth concerns the sales in developing economies.

Rising salaries and standard of living allows large numbers of people to spend their disposal incomes on items which were previous unachievable, with Champagne being an easy symbol that represents this new found wealth. Furthermore, cultural beliefs of certain consumers in relation to the consumption of alcohol is changing which propels the growth of this market further.

Numerous studies and data support this forecast including a report which shows that the rising alcohol consumption around the world is set to continue. Growth is expected to be very strong with Tactical Marketing predicting the highest in food and drink history. We expect the market to grow due to increasing product demand, a demand due in part to growing disposable incomes and developing economies.

These factors combined with technological advancements and raw material affluence are expecting to have a positive effect on the global Champagne market. Champagne manufacturers themselves will be aiding the process a deeper knowledge and understanding of the manufacturing process, sourcing of raw materials, distribution channels, improved growth rates and capital investment.

Author – Didier Penine – 4th September 2019

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