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 (ComitĂ© 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.