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Brexit and bad harvests could dampen supply of fizz

Published:  02 January, 2018

2018 could be the year that Brits’ love of sparkling catches up with them as experts predict a fizz shortage could be about to descend on the UK.

Sales of fizz in the UK have almost doubled over the past five years and reached a high point last year with a total of £1.3 billion taken in the 12 months to September 2017.

Despite record-breaking sales however, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association warned in last week’s market report that the combined effect of Brexit and low yields could limit fizz supplies

 in 2018 as overall growth continues to slow.

Ciaran Myles, research and insights manager at the WSTA said: 
“If you compare [2017] to the previous two years growth for total industry volume sales of sparkling wine were about 15% in 2015, 10% in 2016 and it’s looking like single digits for this year.

“Reports of lower yields from the slopes of Northern Italy, inflation and all the complications that come with Brexit, volumes of sparkling wine might go a little flat in 2018 but the UK sparkling wine market is well placed to weather tough times.”

WSTA’s chief executive Miles Beale concurred that slowed growth compounded by Brexit and bad harvests in 2017 could be “damaging” for the sparkling wine industry.

Sales of sparkling wine have fizzed in the UK over the past five years, with volume sales rising by 89% and 206% by value between 2012 and 2017.

The fizz category in the UK is now worth over £2 billion, and encompasses everything from Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Cremant and English sparkling wine among others.

Prosecco takes up the lion’s share of the sparkling wine sales in the UK with Brits expected to buy around 85 million bottles this year, according to IWSR.

In 2017, some of England and Wales 503 registered commercial vineyards suffered from lower yields due to an air frost in April - but with more and more land being planted under vine, the WSTA expects volumes to continue to grow.

Beale and the WSTA are now focused on striking a free trade deal with the EU so trade to and from the UK isn’t disrupted.

“The UK is the EU’s number one market for volume wine exports after Germany and in return Britain is the largest exporter spirits in the world - 42% of exports goes to Europe,” said Beale.

“We need government to make progress on a trade deal to give the wine and spirit industry some stability in 2018.”