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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Giles Fallowfield

Champagne sales hit a new peak in 2004 with just over 300 million bottles shipped, according to the latest figures just released by the Comit Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC). Although shipments passed the 300 million level in 1999, when they reached 327 million bottles, it took nearly two years for this stock to sell through. With good orders reported by most of the major houses at the start of 2005, it is clear stock has sold through, which makes this a genuine first for the region. Shipments to the UK, the biggest export market for Champagne by nearly 15 million bottles, rose by 1.41% to a new all-time record of 34.95 million bottles. This would have been higher if certain major brands hadn't run out of stock at the year-end, but the Champenois will be glad to see the reduction in discounting has led to an increase in the average value of shipments to the UK, which rose from e11.9 in 2003 to e12.4 a bottle last year for a total value of e434.6 million. The two strongest performances outside the UK came from the US and Japan, where exports grew respectively by 6.86% to 20.26 million bottles and by 18.13% to 5.92 million bottles. Value was also up in the US market from e16.9 to e17.4 and, although it fell slightly in Japan from e19.6 to e19.3 a bottle, this is still the highest average price, thanks to the fact that more than a fifth of all shipments there are prestige cuves.