Logistical issues are troubling the wine industry during what is typically its most profitable season | Illustration by Briana Murphy for The Market Herald

The 2021 Great Supply Drought: Are We Facing a Champagne Shortage?

If you want to buy a case of Veuve Clicquot Champagne at a Dan Murphy’s Liquor Store in Double Bay, you’ll have to buy two bottles and wait until the next day to buy two more. And the next day another two, and so on and on—while supplies last. And it seems these measures are being taken around the world, and not just Australia in response to the supply-chain disruption roiling the wine world right now.

Against a backdrop of economic downturn and lockdowns, Australians developed a surprising thirst for Champagne last year. Reporting the largest increase in Champagne sales among Western countries, Australia became one of the biggest markets for the bubbly beverage in 2020. And, as it turns out, we spent around A$200 million on Champagne, according to the Industry Body Comité Champagne.

Of course, while Australia and a select few other nations continued to enjoy Champagne despite of the pandemic last year, the usually lucrative industry faced significant losses from its major export markets. Champagne’s top three markets, the US, UK and Japan, all reported around a 20 per cent decline in imports last year.

But with restaurants, bars and events returning across the globe, Champagne is once again in high demand. And despite many looking forward to a ‘more normal’ Christmas and New Year’s, the prospect of a Champagne shortage will likely see less fizz this festive season.

Source: Medium

What is causing the shortage?

Although ongoing shipping issues sparked by the pandemic have seen serious supply chain problems for the Champagne market (and all other markets), there will still be bubbly this Christmas. So, no: Champagne won’t be disappearing altogether over the coming months. We can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

However, according to an article published by Emperor Champagne, some industry experts speculate that a few of our favourite brands may introduce purchase limits to ensure everyone gets a bottle this festive season, and they would be correct.

Purchase limits are already being implemented, with the Sydney Morning Herald reporting a Dan Murphy’s store in Double Bay limiting purchases of brands including Veuve Clicquot, Moet et Chandon and Perrier Jouet to two cartons until December 31.

These rationing measures are also being implemented in other areas of the globe, including the US where the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board are limiting the sale of brands like Veuve Clicquot to just two bottles per person.

And it’s not just Champagne that’s being bottlenecked by supply chain problems. The wine industry, in general, is faced with steep shipping costs, long wait times and overwhelming demand that has already seen retailers and restauranteurs struggle to keep up with demand.

In the UK, the lack of Heavy Goods Vehicle drivers – which has led to a widespread fuel crisis in recent months- is also predicted to contribute to the speculated shortage of Champagne this festive season.

So, unlike previous years, it is unlikely we’ll see discounted bottles of bubbly on the shelf this time around. But as for the long-term, Champagne makers are facing other obstacles.

Source: Unsplash

Industry obstacles ahead

Producers in the Champagne region have faced challenging weather conditions in 2021. Frosty conditions earlier in the year saw producers lose an estimated 30 per cent of crops. This was followed by bouts of heavy rainfall which caused mildew, costing a further 25 to 30 per cent loss in the region’s crops.

As a result, the market in around 2023-24 may feel the pinch in terms of supply. What’s more is the region has generally seen reduced yields over the past few years, which will likely play out in further Champagne shortage issues and subsequent rationing in the coming years.

And with the average Aussie drinking an average of 2.6 litres of the stuff each year, maybe it’s worth buying an extra bottle or two before Christmas.

Source: Esquire

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