Sparkling wine

Sparkling wine was the standout performer in an otherwise flat drinks market

Sparkling wine has continued to be the star performer of the drinks market over the past year.

Sales figures revealed in the latest quarterly drinks market report from the Wine & Spirit Trade Association show volume sales of fizz – excluding Champagne – have grown 8% in the off-trade in the past 12 months, and 7% in the past 12 weeks [Nielsen period ending 1 February 2014].

In contrast, overall volume sales of alcoholic drinks were flat over the past 12 months. Sales were down for much of 2013, said the WSTA, but were boosted by a spike during the hot summer. The association said flat sales over the past 12 weeks – which included the festive period – suggested trading was still tough.

Overall spirits sales were also flat, but imported whisky had bucked the trend and grown 9% year-on-year thanks in part to promotional activity over Christmas.

And in stark contrast to sparkling wine, the overall wine category fell for the fourth consecutive year – down 2% year-on-year despite a strong performance by wines from Argentina and South Africa. Champagne sales also dropped 2%.

Off-trade beer volumes were static year-on-year, but have risen 1% in the past 12 weeks. Trading has been more difficult for beer in the on-trade, where a 7% fall in annual volumes was blamed for much of the overall 6% decline in on-trade alcohol sales.

The WSTA said the “tough trading period for the wine and spirit sector” had validated the Chancellor’s decision to scrap the alcohol duty escalator in the latest Budget.