Champagne 2020: Année noire - Historic Sales Slump

Photo: recent shot of the empty Avenue Champagne in Epernay.


Last week, Maxime Toubart, president of the Winegrowers' Association, and Jean-Marc Barillère, president of the Maisons de Champagne, drew a first balance of 2020, with the industry recording a historic drop in sales. "I have never seen such a decline in orders. We can't wait to move on," said an emotional Jean-Marie Barillère. 

The numbers are staggering. In one year, the industry has lost 25 percent of its sales compared to 2019. Only 230 million bottles were sold. As a result, producers have to manage huge stocks of unsold bottles. According to Jean-Marie Barillère: "It's a dark year. The French  consumption collapsed. Fortunately exports recovered better, especially in countries like Australia and the United States." 

The two associations want to improve their international competitiveness. One lesson learned from this crisis concerns Champagne's dependence on the Anglo-Saxon market.  "We can't have all our eggs in the same basket. We have to target a much larger group of customers and countries," said Maxime Toubart. Currently, 90 percent of bottles are sold in five or six countries, he said. 

Prime Minister Jean Castex's recent announcements had the effect of a sledgehammer for Champagne. Sylvester is massacred, he said. "For us, this is an important moment in the life of Champagne, a joyful moment when people come together around a festive product" , regretted Jean-Marie Barillère.  The collateral damage leaves lasting traces not only in the champagne, but also in the gastronomy.


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