Domestic sales of Cava grew by 7% in 2014 but decreased by 5% at EU level

Cava is a Catalan sparkling wine produced using the ‘Méthode Champenoise’. According to statistics from the Cava Regulatory Board, some 242.29 million bottles of Cava were sold in 2014, which represents a 0.38% increase on 2013 figures. Sales on the domestic market increased for the first time after two years of decline, reaching 87.58 million bottles, a 7.54% increase over 2013, with 6.14 million more bottles sold. Sales in bars and restaurants are one of the main reasons for the domestic increase since these grew by 9.3% over 2013. These results compensated for the drop in 2014 sales to the EU market, which accounted for 111.62 million bottles, 5.3% less than in 2013 and a decline in absolute terms of 6.22 million bottles. This was mainly due to a contraction in demand from the German market, where the consumption of Cava fell by 25% in 2014. However, Pedro Bonet, Chairman of the Cava Regulatory Board, has described the 2014 sales data as “satisfactory”, a label also used by the Catalan Minister of Agriculture, Josep Maria Pelegri, who added that they “show that the economic recovery is strengthening”.

According to Pedro Bonet, 2014’s highlight was the success of the domestic market, where a total of 87.58 million bottles were sold. The chairman of the Cava Regulatory Board stressed that the figures for 2014 represent the second-biggest sales increase recorded in the Spanish and Catalan markets since the starting of the economic crisis in 2007. Only 2010’s sales were better, when the number of Cava bottles sold reached 244.8 million, an increase of 8.37% on 2009 figures.

Last year’s 7.54% increase means that in absolute terms 6.142 million more bottles were sold, of which 5.4 million units were produced in Catalonia and only 650,000 units came from other parts of Spain. Bonet highlighted the undisputed predominance of Catalan Cava in comparison to the other regions in Spain where such sparkling wine is produced using the ‘Méthode Champenoise’. In 2014, Catalan Cava represented 98.2% of international exports and 96.9% of sales on the domestic market. Despite last year’s positive results, the 87.58 million bottles sold in 2014 still account for 13.57% less than the record 2006 sales, when 101.336 million bottles were bought by Spanish and Catalan consumers. That year, a commercial boycott on Catalan cava was launched by Spanish nationalists, coinciding with the approval of the reform of Catalonia’s Statute of Autonomy (which is Catalonia’s main law after the Constitution). The effects of the economic crisis that hit Spain in 2008 did the rest.

Sales to EU market decrease by 5.3%

However, the really bad news is that in 2014 Cava sales to the EU market decreased by 5.3% compared to the figure for 2013, coming in at 111.62 million bottles, which means 6.216 million fewer bottles sold. In terms of the EU market, 2014 represents the second consecutive year of falling sales and the third year since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2007. This reduction in sales was mainly due to a contraction in demand from the German market, which fell by 24.18%, with 10 million fewer bottles sold (30.546 million in 2014 compared to 40.289 million in 2013). The economic slowdown registered in some EU economies in 2014 is probably one of the reasons for such a bad result.

However, Chairman of the Cava Regulatory Board declared his optimism regarding the recovery of sales to the EU market. Moreover, notwithstanding the 5.3% drop recorded, exportations within the European Union continued to lead the way in terms of sales of Cava, accounting for 111.6 million bottles, or 72% of international sales.

In 2014, the German market still kept its position as the primary destination for Cava sales, with 30.5 million bottles sold, followed by Belgium (30.4 million bottles sold, an 11.68% increase) and the United Kingdom (28.8 million bottles sold). In France – the home of Champagne –Cava also did very well, with a huge growth in sales (+16.9%), reaching 6.3 million bottles sold.

Sales outside the EU increased by 2.36%

Exports to foreign markets outside the European Union (115 countries in total) kept the positive trend experienced in recent years, accounting for 43.1 million bottles sold. This represents 27.8% of total exports and a 2.36% sales increase over 2013. Since the beginning of the 21st century, sales to countries outside the EU have grown 8.8% on a yearly basis. Sales to emerging markets, including to those known as the BRIC countries, grew substantially (+40%), reaching 2.6 million bottles sold.

2014 turnover stood at €1.03 billion

According to Bonet, total Cava turnover for 2014 was €1.03 billion, a slight 0.2 % increase over 2013. The average price per bottle was €4.28, which includes own brand products. However, among the bottles carrying cellar brands, the average price was €5.5 per bottle, while that of the own brands was €2.1 price per unit.

Premium cava (Reserva and Gran Reserva) was responsible for sales of 27.3 million bottles. Of these, 7.9 million bottles were sold in foreign markets (11.3% of all cava exports). Regarding rosé cava, its sales fell by 7.43% in 2014. Nevertheless, premium rosé cavas showed an increase in sales of 8.63% for Reserva and 6.1% for Gran Reserva wines.

The total number of exporting producers kept growing in 2014, reaching a total of 151 exporters. In 2014, Cava continued to be a world leader in quality sparkling wine exports, with an overall volume of 154.7 million bottles exported.

Cava’s popularity abroad has significantly increased in the past decade

The popularity of Cava in European markets has significantly increased in the past decade. The European sparkling wine market has changed in recent years with an increasing tendency for Cava to be the consumer’s sparkling wine of choice. Historically, Catalonia has pushed Cava as a cheap alternative to Champagne to find their market niche, normally exporting the lowest quality Cava, which was produced in large quantities. European supermarkets reacted accordingly by selling it as a cut-price sparkling wine, but the success of high quality brands of this Catalan sparkling wine has been hindered by long-established and frequent comparisons to Champagne, and consumers tend to be very familiar with the lowest quality and cheapest ranges of Cava.

However, wine connoisseurs state that a comparison of higher quality ranges of Cava with Champagne is a fairer comparison and it has been shown that a preference of one over the other can be simply a matter of taste. In fact, some wine connoisseurs have recently stated they prefer premium Cava over Champagne, as it is less buttery but more refreshing. Both Cava and Champagne are made using the same ‘Méthode Champenoise’ and have their own characteristics.

Source: Catalan News Agency
Photo: Antonio/ flickr

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