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Trends: Light at the end of the tunnel for the Champagne industry?

Par Vitisphere Le 16 août 2010
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Trends: Light at the end of the tunnel for the Champagne industry?

hampagne encountered a bright spell at the beginning of 2010, after two tough years. Whereas shipments dropped 5% and then 9% in volume in 2008 and 2009 (-1% and then –17% in value), in the first five months of 2010, they leapt up 20% compared to the same period in 2009. And with a comparison over 12 months, (start of June 2009 to end of May 2010) the upswing is 3%.

If we refer to the projections made by Crédit Agricole, which were presented at Viteff in October 2009, the crisis experienced by the Champagne region over the last two years was better than the best scenario envisaged at the time, which predicted a situation similar to the crisis of 1990. According to this scenario, sales wold not have passed 291 million bottles in 2009, and would have stagnated in 2010. It appears therefore, that barring sudden worldwide economic downturn in Autumn 2010, the region’s crisis will end without causing too much damage. There will not have been, despite the somewhat negative predictions exposed at the most recent Viteff, any businesses going bankrupt (winemaker, co-operative or trader), thanks to support from social and fiscal organisations and banks, in the form of extended payment deadlines.
Underlining the positive feeling in the vineyards at the 2009 harvest, the trade managed to negotiate a 30% reduction in harvest yield and the introduction of a fifth payment term for grape purchase (whereas co-operatives stay with four). For the 2010 harvest the yield was raised on the 19th July to 10,500 kilograms per hectare, a raise of 9%, and a halfway point between the producers’ demand of 10,800 and that of the trade, less than 10,000, as they want to continue to destock. At the same time, the trade returned to four annual payments. The big Champagne houses are not hiding their satisfaction, notably the Vranken group, recently quoted in our columns in The Expert Opinion of the group’s president, Paul-François Vranken, in which the management describe ‘the end of the crisis for Champagne’.

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