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Champagne imports break UK records

Published:  23 July, 2008

Champagne shipments to the UK - the largest market for Champagne outside France - reached an all-time record of 36,765,884 bottles in 2005 - 5.19% above the 2004 figure, which was itself a record, and more than 4.5 million bottles ahead of the volume shipped in 1999 (which is now only the fourth-highest figure for the UK), according to the latest Comit Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) figures released last week.

Overall, Champagne shipments have crossed the 300m-bottle mark for the third time in seven years, and the second year in succession, rising by 2.02% to 307,498,553 bottles in 2005.

Total exports reached their highest level since 1999, rising by 5.15% to 129,391,158 bottles, fewer than 7m bottles below the '99 record. Unlike in 1999, these are genuine figures, since stocks are reported to have sold through in most major markets at the start of 2006.

Exports have grown in every top market except Switzerland, where shipments fell by just 2.69% to 5,106,479 bottles. Yves Bnard, president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne (UMC), representing all the ngociants, said: We weren't expecting any growth in the French market, and the surge

at the year end made the difference in pushing total shipments over 307m bottles rather than between 304m and 305m, as we predicted.' He continued: The spurt in sales in France came even later than last year - just before Christmas, and between Christmas and the New Year.'

In the French domestic market, shipments rose fractionally, by 0.14%, to 178,107,395 bottles, thanks to a late December surge.