Belgium still the fifth largest champagne importer in the world
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    Belgium still the fifth largest champagne importer in the world

    Champagne shipments to Belgium rose by 14.15% in 2013, with a volume of more than 9.5 million bottles, representing 6.9% of total exports of the luxury beverage worldwide. Belgium thus keeps its position as the fifth importer of champagne in the world, according to figures presented on Thursday by the Inter-Professional Champagne Committee. Britain tops the list with 30 million bottles. The United States comes in second with 18 million bottles, followed by Germany and Japan. Belgians also produce three to five million bottles in their own vineyards but this amount is not included in the official import figures.

    “Although sales in Belgium have a tendency to fluctuate it has increased on average by 2%,” said Gregory Van den Ostende, director of the Committee.

    Although other sparkling wines are selling well, that is not affecting champagne sales. “Champagne is often served on special occasions, which is something other than mass consumption,” said Gregory Van den Ostende. The sharp increase in current consumption of gin and tonic is also not having an effect on champagne sales. “Drinks before dinner have become a trend. First there was the Mojito, then Spritzers, now Gin Tonic. Next year maybe it will be something else. There is still room for more sales, think of pink Champagne; extra brut…  more and more champagne is being drunk with meals, “stated the committee.

    Nevertheless, there is good news for champagne lovers. Due to the favorable weather last summer the  harvest of the Chardonnay grape has been particularly outstanding. “But we will not know until after the tasting of spring 2015 if it was an exceptional year,” said Gregory Van den Ostende.

    Jason Bennett (Source: Belga)