Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Covid-19 takes the fizz out of the UK sparkling market

Published:  12 August, 2020

The loss of celebratory drinking occasions has put the breaks on an already slowing thirst for sparkling wine in the UK, new research has revealed.

Sparkling wine has been one of the main drivers of growth for the wine category over the past decade, with Prosecco delivering a majority of the volume uplift.

According to Wine Intelligence’s new report on the category however, the thirst for sparkling wine has lost momentum over the past two years, with 10% fewer drinking the category in 2020 compared with 2018.

“After a high water mark in 2018, when nearly 210 million bottles of sparkling wine were consumed, most of it Prosecco, the tide has started to go out. 2019 volumes have dropped to a shade over 200 million bottles, a 5% decline,” reads the reports.

According to the report, the Covid-19 pandemic has predictably exacerbated this underlying slowdown, with Champagne appearing to be the most prominent casualty of cancelled gatherings and celebrations.

Likewise, the sparkling wine drinking population has been falling. Things peaked in 2018 at around 26 million UK drinkers, up from 20 million in 2010. In 2020, it has settled back to around 23 million drinkers.

The proportion of UK adults drink sparkling wine on a monthly basis has also been declining since 2018 and is now around 1 in 4.

Wine Intelligence points to increased competition from gin and beer, and to a lesser extent ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

"Prosecco o’clock is giving way to gin o’clock,” it said.

On the other hand, the broader Covid-era trend of buying local appears to be benefiting the English sparkling wine category.

While it remains niche (only 1 in 5 sparkling drinkers have consumed it in the past year), indications show it has seen an uptick in purchase levels since lockdown.

“Its perceived overall quality levels and expected price is very close to that of its prestigious French cousin”, says the report.

For sparkling wine overall, the challenge going forward will be “a marked reluctance” among consumers to “re-engage with large social gatherings or crowds”.

However, the report notes that: “Value and quality perceptions of sparkling wine products continues to rise, suggesting good underlying category relationships.” 

There is also “relatively high consideration levels for alternative sparkling products, especially those involving lower calorie, lower sugar, or fruit flavours”.

All data is taken from Wine Intelligence’s Vinitrac online survey which aims to measure consumer attitudes and buying habits, including purchase frequency of various alcohol beverages.