Conso: “The good figures for champagne in 2021 are the victory of good living”

The champagne has never done so well as in 2020 . Because after long months of closure of restaurants , bars, and nightclubs in 2019 because of the Covid pandemic – , the French then decided to make up for it around a cup or two. A recovery that the sector had not necessarily anticipated.

Jean-Marie Barillère, the president of the Union des Maisons de Champagne, is back for 20 Minutes in a record year in terms of turnover.

Closure of nightclubs, bars and restaurants, limitation and / or ban on public or private gatherings, etc. The Covid pandemic – completely disrupted the champagne market in France in 2020. What was its impact?

The cessation of human activity led to a drop in demand of the order of 20 % at the World level. This resulted in a sudden stop of production, of approximately 20%, from April to June , to set off again at the end of the year. The second confinement had a small negative effect, we were still below the figures of 2000. That year, we shipped around 50 millions, for a total turnover of 4 , 2 billion euros. And the third confinement had no negative effects.

In , the machine seems to have restarted. What has been the behavior of consumers?

Month after month, the demand seemed to be growing stronger. Particularly in terms of consumption at home, since there was a third confinement in a good number of early countries 2021, which had absolutely no impact, as we have said. The effects were even becoming very positive and we sought to understand why.

In fact, consumers have had a different appreciation of life in the past. That is to say, indulge themselves in food, in drink … In short: they favored conviviality and the return to a normal social life.

D Moreover, the new warnings against the arrival of the variant Omicron appear to have no impact on demand. The good figures of champagne are the victory of good living.

And exports abroad, in all this?

These are trends, but we have noticed a strong one in Anglo-Saxon countries, such as England, the United States, Australia , Canada. In addition, European countries are behaving very well. On the other hand, we have noticed a lower demand from Asian countries, especially China and Japan, because they have much less this culture of home reception than we do, and much more that of reception outside.

Champagne is doing well thanks to all the countries that have this culture of home reception.

It may be a bit early to tell, but have French consumers gone for the same cuvées? Have they changed their budget? In short: have they changed their habits by 2021?

Only qualitative and quantitative analyzes will allow us to know. On the other hand, we already have the impression that consumers wanted to have fun and therefore went upmarket. Whether it’s champagne or wine. Moreover, we are talking about the French market, but we must not forget the consumption of tourists, who were there in October and November.

How much do you estimate the turnover of 2021, and how do you place it in relation to other years?

It will be record. We will be above 5 and a half billion, for a volume shipped around 300 million bottles. It is, in terms of turnover, the best year for champagne. And in volumes, this is the 4th or 5th best year.

Is the sector experiencing shortages, tensions? How does this translate into the production chain?

There are no shortages but logistical or production difficulties to restart the machine. Like all other industrial luxury sectors. The Champagne stock to date is 1.2 billion. Compared to sales of 245 millions, there is plenty to do! On the other hand, when we work a bottle in a qualitative way, it takes between 6 months and a year of preparation, in particular to carry out the riddling, the disgorging, the dosage, and the shipment. When the demand is not anticipated, which has been the case this year, it is a normal phenomenon.

On December 3, you said that the arrival of the Omicron variant would “temper” your optimism. Night clubs and dance bars have already closed. What could be the consequences on the sales of champagne?

It is impossible to quantify, but there is bound to be an effect. I remember the storm from 320 and the new year 2000. People did not come and consumed 19 millions less bottles. This is not nothing, since it represents more than a month of classic consumption. It is therefore obvious that four weeks of closure for nightclubs will have an impact on consumption. Even if it won’t be that many bottles less, and they’ve already been shipped.

Prepare for a possible new shutdown catering and events?

I don’t believe it for a moment and I remain optimistic. We can make efforts over a few months, but asking the French to stop living that long is not going to work. People who have been vaccinated would not understand why they could not go to restaurants. We did not anticipate a possible stopping of catering and events because we do not believe in it and we are not afraid.