Analysis Champagne sales in the Gulf fizz by 91% By Shane McGinley May 18, 2023 Emirates Emirates is the only commercial airline in the world officially serving Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon to passengers World Cup led to shipments in Qatar rising by 149% Sales in UAE were up 73% last year Emirates ranks 17th for global Champagne sales World Cup fans and wealthy expats led to Champagne imports to the Gulf almost doubling in 2022. After a strong marketing push by French producers helped luxury bubbly become more mainstream, the number of bottles of Champagne shipped to the region surged 91 percent last year. Comité Champagne, the industry body representing French producers, told AGBI that 1,895,579 bottles were sent from France to the UAE last year, a year-on-year increase of 73 percent. The emirates accounted for three quarters of all bottles sent to the region. The increase meant sales were 5.5 percent above what they were in 2019 before the pandemic restricted imports. The staging of the World Cup in late 2022 saw Qatar’s imports rise 149 percent year-on-year to 623,548 bottles. Bahrain reported a 97 percent increase. Gulf firms tap thirst for no-alcohol drinks Forget ‘Dry January’ – more Gulf drinkers ditching booze all year Dubai’s alcohol tax cut met with some cheers but more booze Oman enjoyed a 2,859 percent rise in Champagne imports, but this was likely due to a statistical anomaly as shipments slumped substantially in 2021 and were still 70 percent down on pre-pandemic sales. Brigitte Batonnet, a press spokesperson from Comité Champagne, said that the increase in Qatar and the wider Gulf region was “due both to the World Cup and to the tourism recovery after the Covid crisis”. A total of 326 million bottles were produced in the Champagne region of north-eastern France in 2022, a yearly increase of 1.6 percent. Exports accounted for 45 percent of sales and increased 4.3 percent year-on-year. The UAE is the world's 17th largest market for Champagne The top five global export markets in 2022 were the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Italy. The UAE was the biggest Arab market, ranked 17th in the world. Maritime and Mercantile International (MMI), one of the main alcohol distributors in Dubai, echoed the French producers’ data, with its Champagne shipments up 66 percent in 2022. Tony Dodds, general manager for wine and Champagne at MMI, said the sales increase was despite the sparkling wine market staying generally stable. Prosecco and Cava sales were up 5 percent and 3 percent respectively over the same period. Dubai Duty Free reported the same trend, with a spokesperson confirming that its Champagne sales rose 18 percent last year. General sparkling wines decreased 9.41 percent over the same period. MMI said the most popular Champagne brand in the UAE is Moët & Chandon, followed by Veuve Clicquot, Ruinar, Dom Pérignon and Perrier Jouet. According to the Gault & Millau UAE Champagne Index, prices for a bottle range from AED650 ($176) for Moët & Chandon in the Folly restaurant in Souk Madinat, to AED29,500 for a bottle of Plenitude Dom Pérignon in At.mosphere at the top of the Burj Khalifa. Naim Maadad, a board member of UAE Restaurant Group, said he was not surprised by the massive increase in shipments. French Champagne houses had put “big bucks” behind their marketing campaigns in the region and it was now regarded as “a normal beverage consumption” in a lot of Dubai venues, especially among newly arrived wealthy Russian expats, he added. “I hope we start getting the boutique Champagne houses here, so venues can list them and support the market education," he said. "Excellent sommeliers would take the beverage programmes and offerings a notch or two upwards." Export sales represented 45% of all Champagne sold last year Teetotal drinkers also have a taste for bubbles, according to Erika Blazeviciute Doyle, founder and managing director of the Dubai-based Drink Dry e-commerce platform, which launched French Bloom, an alcohol free sparkling wine, in November 2022. “The founders are from a reputable Champagne family and so bring a lot of credibility to the category as ultra luxury producers,” she said. Meanwhile, Dubai’s Emirates revealed in December that it was the only commercial airline in the world officially serving Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot and Dom Pérignon. The flagship carrier, which last week reported record profits of AED10.6 billion, said it has spent $1 billion on its wine programme over the last 16 years and stated that it purchases more Champagne than any other airline in the world.