Boris Johnson says Italy will flog less Prosecco in Britain if no tariff-free trade is thrashed out between the two countries


Boris Johnson says Italy will flog less Prosecco in Britain if no tariff-free trade is thrashed out between the two countries. But fizzy wine, the year’s third fastest growing category with sales up £101.9m and volumes growing 14.7%, could go flat before any deal is agreed if the pound continues to weaken.

“In light of shortages experienced by the Prosecco category earlier this year, combined with the recent currency movements, we believe pricing in the UK will increase over the next 12 months at the entry level,” says Ian Thomson of Thomson & Scott, owner of Skinny Prosecco, our Top Launch.

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With Brits used to paying as little as £6 a bottle, the Italian fizz would be hit hard by price rises - not least top brand Plaza Centro, which delivered the sector’s greatest growth, worth £16.6m. The Tesco exclusive’s extra sales have been driven by a 2.7% fall in price to an average of £6.40 a bottle as the retailer has pursued an everyday low pricing strategy on key Prosecco lines - hurting wine sales in the process, down 2% in volume.

EDLP is also the watchword in wine, says Nielsen analyst Michael Sills. “Promotional volume is down 5.4%, reflected across both brands and own label, down 6.2% and 2.6%. The biggest change has been in the non-promotional price per unit for brands, down 7p.”

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Average price is down for all but one of the top 10 still brands (Campo Viejo), driven by two factors: stiffening competition with own label - up 1.9% on volumes up 1.4% - and the discounters’ ascent. “Increasingly good stuff at good value” is how Lidl wine buyer Anna Krettman sums up its well curated range, pointing to its Hungarian wines and Canadian ice wine as examples of unusual tipples luring shoppers.

Brands like Campo are retaliating by focusing on premium wines such as tempranillo. Pernod Ricard’s head of marketing Toni Ingram says this, and the extra 642k bottles of Champagne shifted in 2016 proves Brits will pay for pricier plonk: “Consumers increasingly view wines like Prosecco as an everyday treat and are trading up for key occasions.”

But will they pay more if and when sterling’s devaluation delivers price hikes?

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