37 million Cava bottles to sparkle this Christmas

The wine sector foresees an increase of cava and wine consumption in Spain and Catalonia, as well as in the foreign market, during the upcoming Christmas holidays. The price adjustment, one of the measures used to fight the financial crisis, will help to sell one million more bottles compared to the same period last year, however producers predict purchases to be last minute.


December 10, 2011 12:17 AM

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (ACN). - The Cava Regulatory Board forecasts the sale of 37 million bottles of the Catalan sparkling wine in Spain during the Christmas holidays, which represents an increase of one million compared to 2010. Up to 15 million bottles will be sold in Catalonia, according to the Cava Employers Organisation, which represents 2.7% more than last year. The increase comes as a result of the “effort to adjust prices in the whole sector”, explained the President of the Regulatory Board, Gustau García Guillamet. Overall the wine sector will experience a 20% sales increase during the last month of the year compared to the average for the rest of the year. The number of Christmas hampers given by employers will also decrease, but consumers will not stop buying wine and cava, though they will do so at the last minute.

The President of the Cava Regulatory Board, Gustau García Guillamet, said that despite the crisis, “numbers show that consumers cannot do without cava on special occasions”. An assertion that is supported by the prediction of a million more bottles being sold than the same period last year in Spain.

In Catalonia the forecast sees a total of 15 million bottles being consumed, which amounts to a total percentage increase of 2.7% or 405,000 more bottles when compared to 2010.

In order to achieve this increase in consumption, the sector had to adjust its prices, an action that will “balance” their books, said Guillamet. The President of the Regulatory Board was conclusive about the price adjustment, which he believes “has affected the whole production line”.

The Cava Employers Organisation released figures that show that during the first nine months of the year 152,093,556 bottles were sold, representing an increase of 2.8% compared to the same period last year. Sales in the domestic market amounted to 57,369,159 bottles –2.45% more than last year–, while in the foreign market 94,724,397 bottles were sold –a 3.01% increase–.

Last minute purchases

Xavier Roig, in charge of Cal Feru, a shop specialised in cava located in the Catalan wine making town of Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, expects sales of employer Christmas hampers will decrease due to the financial situation, although consumers will not stop buying cava.

Roig told ACN that sales will be “very similar”, but “people will not start buying cava until the last minute”. “Before, consumers used to buy the product during the month of December to have enough stock for the following year, but now they buy cava depending on everyday needs”, he added.

There will be wine and cava sales for all price ranges. According to what Roig explained, Cal Feru will sell both cheap and expensive bottles because “everyone looks for the cava they want ”.

Wine will also experience a sales increase

During the Christmas period wine shines through as another star product and its sale increases by 20% compared to the rest of the year. Secretary General of the Catalan Wine Association (AVC), Joan Gil, stated that even though there are more celebrations and dinners “with wine”, compared to cava, “wine does not concentrate its sale during the Christmas period because it is consumed throughout the year”.

Gil agrees with Cal Feru’s manager by declaring that people “wait longer to buy their bottles, because they want to have them for the holidays. They also don’t buy cava to then keep it stored”. Gil also refers to companies specialised in Christmas hampers that now “wait until they have a confirmed order to purchase the product”.

The wine sector sells 60% of its product in the foreign market and 40% in the domestic market. Due to this fact, AVC has asked people in Catalonia to buy more Catalan wine, because even though “it is constantly growing, it still is a difficult market”, said Gil.

The best consumers live in the metropolitan area, he added, but due to their “cosmopolitan nature he likes to try many things and is unfaithful to a brand or product so it doesn’t work well”. For this reason, the entity representing Catalan producers demands that Catalan consumers choose wine from their area.

According to statistics from the association, wine sales in Spain fell by 3% compared to last year’s annual average. Gil explained that despite the fact that “household consumption increased”, the probable cause for the fall has been the decrease in consumption by the hotel industry.

On the contrary AVC has figures that indicate an increase in wine sales this year. Gil thinks it might be due to the growth of individual consumers or also because the “more demanding nature” of the consumer. In fact, over the past few years, Xavier Roig noticed an increase in consumers looking for a specific variety of wine or cava and with this “it looks like they have more of an interest, that they understand it and value it” as a product. “Before, they saw it as a type of food”, he said.

Cava exportation

García Guillamet also wanted to highlight the increase in the foreign market. Germany continues to lead with 23,802,963 bottles sold in the first nine months of the year -an increase of 3.8% on last year-. In second place is the United Kingdom, which sold 19,018,296, representing a decrease of 3.1%, while Belgium with 14,587,821 bottles sold and an increase of 2.3%, ranks third. The Belgian market, García Guillamet noted, is of particular interest because he believes we have to "bear in mind that we have gone from selling 700,000 bottles in 2001 to 21.1 million in 2010, which is a major increase."

A fascinating case, according the President of the Employer’s Organisation, is France, which has sold 2.9 million bottles in the first nine months of the year, representing an increase of 16.9%. "This increase is significant because France is the country most aware of the benefits of sparkling wine, so for us this data is valuable”, he stated.

In emerging markets the percentage increases are "very positive" although the total number of bottles exported is still small, explained Guillamet. According to figures from the Regulatory Board sales increased by 115.4% in China, 60.17% in Russia and 49.3% in Brazil.