Sales of sparkling wine grew 12% in the last year, according to the latest figures from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA).
The data shows that since 2012 sales of sparkling wine and Champagne have soared by 72%, equating to an extra 44 million bottles (up from 112 million bottles to around 156 million). Overall the UK is the sixth largest sparkling wine market in the world, and the largest market for Champagne outside of France. Recent reports suggest the UK is also the largest export market for Italian sparkling wine by both volume and value.
The WSTA warns however that Britain’s wine trade faces major challenges in the wake of the country’s decision to leave the European Union. These include rising import costs (due to the devaluation of the pound after the Referendum), which has resulted in higher prices.
The report said prices will go up unless “frictionless” post-Brexit trade is secured, which is “vital for the continued success of the UK wine industry”, according to the trade body.
The key findings of the report also highlight the fact that wine is the most commonly drunk alcoholic drink in the UK, with 60% of UK adults drinking wine. By value, more than two thirds of the UK trade in wine is with the EU. It also noted that Britain imported more than 1.8bn bottles of wine in 2016 (still and sparkling), although New Zealand, Argentina and Chile have seen the largest growth in the UK market in the last year.
Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “Our Wine Report for 2017 shows that Brits’ thirst for sparkling wine continues to grow, and also underlines the value of the wine trade to the UK economy, not to mention the enormous tax contribution our industry makes to the Treasury’s coffers.
“Over two thirds of UK trade in wine is with the EU, and the question of how to keep the UK at the heart of the world wine trade post Brexit is key if we want to see continued growth in years to come.
“The WSTA view is crystal clear. Brexit negotiations must avoid disruption to existing trade, a view that is strongly supported by our colleagues in the EU wine and spirit trade. We are working together to forge a plan that keeps our historic trade flow intact, regardless of any posturing – either in Westminster or Brussels.”