By Guy Chatfield
From what I’ve read, Prosecco was the major winner on the high street this Christmas, with sales of the Italian fizz apparently “soaring” in Tesco, Majestic & Waitrose. In fact the people at Tesco trumpeted that like-for-like sales were double that of Christmas 2011, with the folks at Waitrose echoing that the product was “the biggest seller by far” in a “challenging” trading period.
While Prosecco sparkled, Champagne toiled, with the best performers showing flat sales at best.
Now, you’d think that the Champenoise would be in turmoil, declaring that Prosecco was the very elixir of Beelzebub, the architect of the downfall of the king of wines. Not so it seems! Paul Beavis, the MD of Lanson International was quoted recently to say, “‘I think it proves its point as an introducer to the sparkling category.
“Prosecco’s done a good job in terms of value.”
Perhaps Beavis has good reason to be sanguine.
Although the market is not conducive for selling luxury products at the moment, the cyclical nature of these things means that sales will come back in time to the category.
Champagne is a remarkably resilient product, Beavis acknowledged, having been quoted as saying “through the global downturn… the thirst for Champagne will always be there… and hopefully, beyond!
What interests me from a professional point of view in 2013, is how the consumer reacts to news that the 2012 harvests have been awful.
For example, New Zealand Sauvignon volume is down 25%, Italy’s grape production is down 7% on what was already a small 2011, and in Burgundy they have recorded the smallest vintage in 50 years.
With so many price increases coming down the line for the popular wine styles, on top of the 2013 duty increase, will it redress the consumer’s expectation for a crazy deal or will this lack of juice reset the market and end the supermarket deep-discounting? Watch this space.