2021: The Year of The Champagne Surge07/09/2021
According to the Comité Champagne, there’s a dip in champagne shipment by 18% or around 50 million bottles last year. Together with the recent rebound in sales, there’s likely to be a champagne shortage coming at the end of the year. In fact, high-consuming regions such as the Hamptons are already feeling the hit, with East End restauranteurs flying in their own sparkling alternatives.
What are the reasons behind this shortfall? And as Christmas and New Year celebrations are approaching, how will consumers and the hospitality sector cope?
The Repercussions of Extreme Weather
The entire champagne-making process from harvest to corking takes years in the making. So the bubbly shortage comes as little surprise when we consider the past half decade’s rough harvest figures, as a result of destructive weather, rot and mildew.
Figures released by the Comité show that year 2016 recorded the lowest crop yield since the 1980s. This is due to an unfortunate series of natural calamities. After the atrocious late frosts hit the Côte des Bar region, where a quarter of the Champagne vineyards resided, hailstorms and mildew swept through the entire Champagne region. Eric Rodezfrom Champagne Rodez in Ambonnay revealed to publication Decanter that ‘the growing season is the most complicated Champagne has known since the very difficult season of 1956.’ Other winemakers also claimed the adverse weather conditions cost them up to 70% of their harvest.
Now that the Comité has also agreed on a dramatic yield reduction for the 2020 harvest, it seems that champagne houses are not likely to make a recovery in the short term.
2021: All the More Reason to Celebrate
Challenges met by Champagne production aren’t the only cause for the looming shortage. Despite the assumption that demand would stay low during the COVID-19 pandemic, the market sees a more nuanced shift in consumption habits and even a resurgence for Champagne in 2021.
Latest insight from Live-ex reveals that champagne trade by value soared by nearly 60% in March over over the equivalent period in 2020. This observation is seconded by Moët Hennessy, whose Champagne portfolio included Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and more. During the first quarter of 2021 they recorded a 22% rise in sales compared with the same period in 2020.
“We saw a rapid rebound in sales toward the end of 2020 and early 2021 and are still experiencing growth” noted Anne-Sophie Stock, Vice President of Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, at Moët Hennessy. “We’re optimistic that our numbers will continue to increase as the world opens up and people are finding more and more cause to celebrate.”
While there are fewer social gatherings and parties taking place, there’s a promising increase in e-commerce sales. Consumers are slowly embracing the comfort of a little in-home indulgence with premium champagne. And perhaps other than usual festivities, lifted lockdowns and reunions are reasons alone to celebrate.
Bubbles for a Change
With the foreseeable shortage and surging demand during Christmas, suppliers are already reallocating stock to ensure sufficient bottles are reserved for retail, hotels and restaurants. But while this bubbly shortage wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of celebrations, consumers looking to fizz it up this Christmas might still expect a price increase in champagne. In the meantime, the market is also likely to seek alternatives such as the English homegrown sparkling, Cava and Crémant.
As the shortage for champagne begins and is expected to prolong for time to come, consumers’ habits and preferences with sparkling wine might be further influenced in the future.
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