Worldwide Champagne sales fell 34% in volume terms in the first two months of 2009, with EU markets hardest hit, according to regional trade body CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne).

Sales to EU countries, excluding France, fell by more than 47%, largely due to a slump in the UK, which accounts for around 25% of global exports. French sales fell 23%, compared to the same period in 2008, the CIVC said.

Consumption in the UK has been badly affected by a 30% devaluation in sterling against the euro and the overall financial crisis. 

Outside of the EU, sales tumbled 42%, with the worst falls in the US and Switzerland. The Japanese market also showed signs of weakness.

A CIVC spokesperson told just-drinks that there is "nothing alarming" about the fall. "January-February 2008 figures were boosted by a surge in last-minute sales ahead of price increases," he said, adding that the two months account for 6% of global sales annually.