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Champagne Is Resurgent After Pandemic Disruption

July 12, 2021

Champagne was significantly disrupted in the U.S. market amid the pandemic, with total shipments falling by nearly 19% last year. Still, the category remained much healthier at the consumer level. In fact, considering the scale of the challenge presented by the pandemic, the bubbly business responded well, with overall U.S. depletions slipping only 2.5% to just under 1.5 million cases in 2020, according to Impact Databank.

Only four of the top 20 Champagne brands in the U.S. were able to post depletions increases for 2020, but those included No.-1 ranked Veuve Clicquot, No.-2 Moët & Chandon, and No.-4 Laurent-Perrier, whose volume gains partially offset double-digit declines for a number of other leading labels. The good news is that the category is back on much sounder footing so far in 2021, with the on-premise steadily reopening and many brands enjoying robust momentum. Shipments from France to the U.S. surged by 48% in volume terms through the first four months of this year, and growth was even faster over the same period in Nielsen channels, with the category up 60% overall, and rosé Champagne leaping by 66%.

Moët Hennessy USA’s dynamic duo of Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon continues to comprise over two-thirds of the Champagne market in the U.S., according to Impact Databank, and both labels managed to churn forward last year amid the difficult conditions. “We saw a rapid rebound in sales toward the end of 2020 and early 2021, and we’re still experiencing growth as consumers continue to enjoy Champagne at home while exploring on-premise purchasing opportunities as well,” notes Anne-Sophie Stock, vice president, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot, at Moët Hennessy. “We’re optimistic that our numbers will continue to increase as the world opens up and people are finding more and more cause to celebrate.”

Piper-Heidsieck, the eighth-ranked Champagne in the U.S., recently transitioned to the Folio Fine Wine Partners stable. Damien Lafaurie, president of Piper parent EPI’s wine and Champagne division, says off-trade momentum is continuing, and the on-trade is beginning to pick up as well. “The U.S. consumer is more than ever interested in extending their Champagne repertoire beyond the conventional Brut NVs, and we’re seeing growing demand for lower dosage cuvées such as Piper-Heidsieck Essentiel and our Vintage range,” he explains, adding that the Covid crisis “has opened up new modes of consumption for Champagne which will continue to develop in the coming years.”

Nicolas Feuillatte, handled by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates in the U.S., has also sought new growth opportunities lately. “Over the last year, we’ve focused heavily on amplifying our presence online, especially on the digital shelf, by working closely with emerging digital e-commerce platforms like Drizly, Instacart, and Wine.com to be present where our consumers are shopping,” says Francis Perrin, chief marketing officer at Ste. Michelle, which is set to be sold to private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $1.2 billion in a deal announced last week.

Pernod Ricard, which has two Champagne brands among the top seven in the U.S. in Perrier-Jouët and Mumm, made strides in the e-commerce and off-premise arenas last year following the initial shock of the pandemic. Both brands slipped in volume terms for the year, but Mumm in particular has been on a growth run in the U.S over the medium-term. Volume now stands at about 34,000 cases, more than double its 2014 total.—Daniel Marsteller

Top Five Champagne Brands In The U.S.
 (thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Importer 2019 2020 Percent
Change1
1 Veuve Clicquot Moët Hennessy USA 539 548 1.6%
2 Moët & Chandon Moët Hennessy USA 434 462 6.4%
3 Nicolas Feuillatte Ste Michelle Wine Estates 64 43 -32.8%
4 Laurent-Perrier Laurent-Perrier US 38 41 7.9%
5 Perrier-Jouët Pernod Ricard USA 47 38 -18.3%
Total Top Five2 1,122 1,132 0.8%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: IMPACT DATABANK © 2021

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