Sales of fizz breaks Christmas barrier of 45 million bottles for first time
Sales of sparkling set yet another benchmark in the run up to Christmas, with sparkler-hungry Brits quaffing 10% more than usual in the off-trade and 37% in the on-trade.
For the 12 weeks to December 31, sales of fizz (not including Champagne) sold in the UK peaked at more than 45 million bottles for the first time.
Higher-than usual sales in the run-up to Christmas saw sales of sparkling reach £270 million in the off-trade - 10% more than the same period in 2015.
The on-trade also saw similar gains.
For the same period, five million bottles were sold in pubs bars and restaurants worth £127 million, up a 37% on last year.
The figures, released in the WSTA’s latest market report, showed that combined on and off-trade sales have risen up 54% in five years, driven by the meteoric rise of Prosecco and others including Cava and English sparkling wine.
The UK now accounts for three quarters of all Prosecco sales in Europe worth €600 million, in comparison with Champagne’s €333 million worth of sales (IRI).
Thirst for sparkling
Brits drank 45 million bottles of sparkling in the run up to Christmas 2016 - more than double the 21 million bottles consumed in 2012.
Yearly figures show similar uplift.
Total sparkling wine (not including champagne) accounted for 995,000 hectolitres (the equivalent of 132 million bottles) in the on and off-trades throughout 2016, worth over £1.2 billion.
Sales of Prosecco are particularly booming in retail, where it accounts for 20% of all sales.
Although it has a long way to go before it rivals sales of Champagne, sales of English sparkling wine continue to encroach on Champagne’s dominance as a quality alternative.
M&S now stocks 37 English wines and is reporting a 100% sales increase over the past year.
Similarly in Waitrose, for every 10 bottles of Champagne sold, Waitrose sold one bottle of English sparkling wine.
The figures feature as part of the WSTA’s new Q1 2017 market reports.
Two days before the budget, chief executive Miles Beale is once again highlighting the ongoing tax burden placed on the UK drinks trade.
The sparkling wine category, which includes Prosecco, Cava and English sparkling wine among others, attracts 28% higher duty than still wine.
“The UK saw the largest ever quarterly sales of sparkling wine at the end of last year, but with price rises looming we need government support to ensure that the bubble doesn’t burst when it comes to the British drinkers’ love for fizz.
“Wine is now the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink and it is vital that government backs the British wine trade which generates £17.3bn in economic activity. We are calling on the Chancellor to cut wine and spirit duty by 2% at the budget on Wednesday. This would benefit our industry, the consumer and boost Treasury coffers - just as it did two years ago,” he said.