The Champagne market will only return to the level of its 2011 record high in 2018, on the back of a recovery in its main European markets such as the UK, Germany and Belgium, and growth outside Europe, a new just-drinks report has forecast.

Total Champagne shipments reached a record high of 323m bottles in 2011 but have declined for the past two years, registering a drop of 1.2% in 2013 to reach 305m bottles. However, the just-drinks report forecasts a slow, steady recovery over the next four years, with shipments expected to reach 322m bottles by 2018.

“Despite the declines of 2012 and 2013, the immediate future looks increasingly bright for Champagne,” the report states.

However, the exception to this, it adds, was the domestic market, which had suffered sharp declines. Overall growth would be restricted by the slow rate of recovery in France, which still accounts for half of total Champagne sales. The report forecasts that sales in France will fall again by 2.5m bottles to 160m bottles in 2015 before beginning to regain ground.

Even though Champagne’s traditional strongholds account for four out of every five bottles of Champagne consumed, recent years have seen significant growth in other markets, officially referred to as “pays tiers”. Last year, these markets, which include the US, Australia, Hong Kong and Mexico, accounted for 20% of global shipments, versus 14% a decade ago.

While the report says that the prospect of growth in non-traditional markets is “whetting the appetite of the leading Champagne houses”, it also forecasts a shift back to a more familiar balance between old and new markets, due to economic recovery in its traditional strongholds.

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