Champagne appears to be losing out to Cava, which is seen as an acceptable cheaper alternative

Champagne appears to be losing out to Cava, which is seen as an acceptable cheaper alternative

Sparkling wine was the only alcohol category in the UK off-trade to see volume rises in the past 12 months, according to latest figures. 

Volumes for the category were up by 8% to 479,000 hectolitres in the 12 months to the beginning of February this year. Sales in the period rose by 11% for sparkling wine to GBP405m (US$606.5m), according to Nielsen figures released by the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) as part of a market report late Friday (15 March). Sparkling wine was also the only category to see off-trade volume growth in the past 12 weeks, continuing its strong performance of late.

Separately, at a press briefing in London on Friday, Treasury Wine Estates' senior category insight manager Nicola Frinneby-Wake said sparkling wine is the “hero of the wine industry”, with Cava the "key to growth". 

By contrast, off-trade Champagne volumes fell by 129,000 hectolitres to 6% in the year, while sales dipped by 4% to GBP321m. 

For spirits, rum was the only category to see off-trade volumes rise in the past 12 months, edging up by 1%. Sales for rum were up by 6% to GBP278m. 

For wine, the biggest-selling price point by volume in the off-trade remains GBP4.01-5.00, but volumes were down by 5% to 2.7m hectolitres in the year. The highest riser was wines priced GBP8.01-9.00, with volumes up by 19% in the 12 months, but remaining low overall at 122,000 hectolitres.  

In the UK on-trade, volumes across all categories fell by 4% in the year, while sales were up by 3% to GBP23.2bn, figures from CGA Strategy showed. Liqueurs were the star performer, however, with sales up by 27% in the year to GBP701m.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said the overall fall in volumes in the on- and off-trade are a “further sign” the UK Government should re-think the alcohol duty escalator.  

A report this month from Champagne's trade body showed that wealthy consumers from Russia and China are shoring up the Champagne market in the UK.