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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield

Champagne shipments to the UK have recovered well in 2001, rising by 21.86% to 25.07 million bottles, according to figures just released by the Comit Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). However, the UK is the only major market outside France showing any significant growth. Total export shipments are down 5.15% to 98.24 million bottles, with the important and profitable US market showing the steepest drop - 29.5% to 13.7 million bottles. The UK and US markets declined by 36.66% and 18.7% respectively in 2000, after reaching new record highs in 1999, pre-millennium. Total Champagne shipments in 2001 rose by 3.7% to 262.61 million bottles, thanks to growth in the French domestic market of 9.83%. Of the three top ten export markets that grew, other than Britain only Japan, seventh in the league export table in terms of volume, managed double digit growth, with shipments up 12.13%. Yves Bnard, Prsident of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, which represents the interests of all the ngociant houses in Champagne, believes Champagne consumption in 2001 was close to 275 million bottles, rather better than the official shipment figures suggest. This is because the 15 million or so bottles of excess stock, still left in various distribution networks in certain export markets, have finally been cleared. We can now forget the millennium; we have a clean stock situation at the start of 2002,' said Bnard.