NEW YORK -- Champagne sales lost some of their pop in 2023 following a few record-breaking years of sales spurred by the end of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Comité Champagne, a trade association representing more than 16,000 winegrowers and 320 Champagne houses, said in a new report that total shipments last year of bubbly from France fell to 299 million bottles, a decline of 8.2% compared to 2022.
That marks nearly a return to pre-COVID levels in 2019 when 297.3 million bottles were shipped. During its peak in 2022, sales soared by 33%, when 325 million bottles were shipped.
Although total shipments fell, the financial fortunes of many Champagne houses were less affected because they sold more expensive labels, thus enabling them to maintain their sales above 6 billion ($6.6 billion) for another year, Comité said in a release.
Sales also slumped by a similar figure within France, which accounts for Champagne's largest consumer base.
Within France, shipments last year dropped by 8.2% to 127 million bottles because the country "has suffered more from inflation, compared to export markets, which has weighed on household budgets throughout the year," the association said.
David Chatillon, the association's co-president, said "The decline was to be expected, but with the value maintained, Champagne is still optimistic for the future, whilst remaining sensitive to the geopolitical context and the state of the global economy."
Other wine and spirits - such as whiskey - have also seen sales and shipments slip as drinkers ease off from stockpiling their homes with alcohol since restaurants and bars have fully reopened.
For LVMH Moet Hennessy, the biggest maker of Champagne and owner of premium brands like Moet & Chandon and Dom Pérignon, the hit was reflected in an October earnings report that encompassed the first 9 months of 2023. Its wine and spirits category was its only business group to register declines, falling 7%.
The name Champagne is exclusively reserved for wines harvested and produced by 16,200 growers on 34,300 hectares northeast of Paris.
The region is also struggling with extreme weather events, including high heat and early frosting, which has resulted in wine growers in 2021 seeing their smallest harvest since 1957. This cost France a total of roughly $2 billion in sales, a recent report said.