BusinessDay

Nigeria’s champagne imports from France jump 84%

The importation of champagne from France into Nigeria jumped by 86 percent last year, nearing the pre-COVID levels, data obtained by BusinessDay show.

Experts said the relaxation of COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns and restrictions had led to a recovery of champagne consumption in Nigeria.

According to data compiled by Comité Champagne, a trade association that tracks volume and value of exports from France, Nigeria’s champagne import volume increased by 83.8 percent to 559,088 in 2021 from 304,199 in 2020, the lowest volume in seven years.

The country’s champagne import volume fell in 2020 from 569,400 in 2019.

Victor Ikem, a Lagos-based champagne and wine retailer, said the recovery was not surprising as the uptick in market activities, reopening of consumption outlets and hotels and the easing of travel restriction had helped consumer purchases.

“Expectedly, a lot of consumers are willing and ready to catch up with what they lost in terms of the period of non-consumption as a result of the COVID,” he said.

Abiola Gbemisola, an analyst at FBNQuest, said in all consumer sectors, there was a strong growth in volumes in 2021. “Although, people are buying but not as they use too.”

Globally, recovery was also recorded as champagne volumes in 2021 rose to 322 million bottles, an increase of 32 percent over 2020.

Nigeria is the third biggest champagne market in Africa and the 32th in the world. The drink, which is associated with luxury, has long been the go-to drink for celebrations.

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But the high cost of foreign exchange and luxury tax placed on it has affected consumption growth as many consumers now go for cheap wines.

A recent BusinessDay survey across some retail stores in Lagos showed that the price of the lowest brand of champagne averaged around N25,000-N30, 000, while a bottle of wine is priced between N2,000 and N5,000

“This simply explains the reality of the Nigerian consumer market. Pressured consumer pockets means a reduction in the consumption of luxury products. As I always say, Nigerians now buy price and not necessarily quality or favourites,” Ayorinde Akinloye, an analyst at United Capital Plc, said.

Nigeria’s exit from recession in 2017 and 2020 has failed to lead to improvement in the living condition of Nigerians and their purchasing power.

In a recent report, the World Bank noted that the country’s surging inflation rate had pushed more people into poverty. According to the bank, before inflation started rising steadily, there were 82.9 million poor Nigerians but the number has risen to 90.1 million in 2021 and is projected to hit 95.1 million in 2022.

Data from Comité Champagne showed that champagne consumption in the country has trended down to 304,199 in 2020 from 593,097 in 2017, but rose to 559,088 in 2021 while wine consumption stood at 33.1 million, the highest since 2015, data from Euromonitor International show.

“Wine is becoming more popular in Nigeria year on year, increasing volumes,” Christopher Day, a research analyst at Euromonitor International, said.

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