Supermarket sales of top wine brands have plummeted due to retail price rises in the past year.

Among the worst hit is Hardys, the bestselling brand in the multiple grocery market, which saw volumes collapse by 22% and sales value by 18% after average prices rose 18p to £4.26, according to Nielsen data for the year to May 16.

Constellation's stablemate Stowells - which saw its average 75cl price leap from £2.99 to £3.47 - was hit even harder, with volumes down by 42% and sales value falling by 32%.

Constellation Europe's senior vice-president for sales and marketing, James Lousada, said price-led NPD would be key to restoring volume growth.

"Last year we increased prices on Hardys' core range and, in doing so, removed the entry-level proposition," said Lousada. "As a result of the change in market dynamics, volume sales did suffer.

"This year, we are aware of the challenges our customers and consumers are facing and have responded with the launch of two new Hardys ranges - Voyage and Bin 53 - both at entry level. We are confident these developments, plus a continued focus on our core £5-£7 range, will help the brand return to growth and Constellation Europe to regain market share."

Neil Barker, UK commercial director for Foster's EMEA arm, said giving consumers and retailers a value option was key to growth.

"We have been working closely with our customers to respond to the increasing importance of value through the credit crunch," he said. "A main focus of this strategy has been the introduction of a stronger value proposition in our Lindemans range, with labels such as Lindemans Winemakers Selection and Lindemans Secret Valley from Chile.

"In the current economic environment we need to be realistic about consumers looking for good-quality wine at a good price. It is a balancing act to ensure we do this while planning ahead to unlock future growth and protect our brands."

Average wine prices in the multiples rose 19p per 75cl to £4.06 over the period - well below the £4.25 for the off-trade overall.