Champagne sold 14m less bottles in 2012, a 4.4% decline after a slump in pre-Christmas trade.
The final figure of 308.8m bottles was lower than anticipated – industry insiders had forecast a 3% fall to 314-315m bottles – following poor demand in November and December, when shipments fell by 6-7% and 8.8% respectively.
Leaving aside the lowest point of the economic crisis in 2009 – when shipments slumped to 293.3m bottles – this represents Champagne’s worst year in terms of volume since 2005.
However, the Comite Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) pointed out that shipments by value (ex-cellar) were stable at €4.37bn, describing the figure as ‘very satisfactory’.
Shipments to the vital French market – which still accounts for 55.5% of global shipments – declined by 5.6% or over 10m bottles to 171.4m bottles.
Meanwhile, the ongoing crisis in the European Union prompted a 7.1% volume decline to 76.4m bottles.
There was better news, however, in markets outside the EU, which added 1.9m bottles or 3.2% over the year, importing 61m bottles in total.
That represents an all-time high, thanks to growth in key markets such as Japan and Australia, and soaring demand in emerging markets, including China, Russia, Mexico and Nigeria.
The CIVC said the volume decline was expected because of ‘the hard economic environment’ and highlighted an increase in average per bottle prices, adding: ‘These results, despite a diminution in volume on European markets, reinforce the strategy of creation of value and the development of the Champagne prestige.’
Detailed figures for the US and the UK are not yet available.