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UK retains Champagne export crown as sales return to growth

Published:  08 March, 2016

The UK continued its unbroken reign as the world's largest Champagne export market in 2015, according to figures released today by the Comité Champagne.

The UK has retained the number-one slot every year since 1986, and has only relinquished it four times since 1985.

Champagne shipments to the UK last year grew 4.5% by volume while worldwide volumes edged up by around 1.5%.

Value meanwhile grew by 7.3%.

Françoise Peretti, Champagne Bureau director, said. "The focus for everyone in Champagne is value, not volume. Champagne growers and houses understand the precious heritage of which they are the keepers, and they will spare no effort to conserve and enhance it."

The figures are welcome news for Champagne in the UK, where the sparkling wine market has been increasingly dominated by Prosecco, which overtook Champagne by both volume and value last year.

Prosecco sales rocketed by 72.1% to £338.6 million in the year to July 18, 2015, according to figures from IRI.

Champagne grew just 1.2% over the same period, with sales at £250 million.

Likewise Champagne volumes plateaued across the 12 months while Prosecco surged 78.8%.

Key to Champagne's strategy is a focus on the history and authenticity of Champagne's story, as evidenced by last July's listing of the Champagne region as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The listing was particularly wide ranging, encompassing the hillsides, houses and cellars of the whole Champagne region.

Peretti said: "This is not just an encouragement to tourism in the region, though tourism will doubtless benefit. This is a monument to all dimensions of Champagne's uniqueness and a pointer to the actions that will be deployed to guarantee its future.

"It's a continuing journey of enhancement, an eternal quest for excellence, built on pride in the past and a determination to constantly develop that heritage for future generations and consumers alike."