Experts warn UK is set to hit ‘peak Prosecco’

Prosecco sales have rocketed.
Prosecco sales have rocketed.
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Its relative value for money made it a huge hit after the financial crisis, sparking a 6,000 per cent rise in sales over the past decade.

But now experts have warned that the UK could finally be reaching “peak Prosecco” as sales of the sparkling wine continue to rise – but at a far slower rate than before.

Research by accountancy group UHY Hacker Young found that 35.8 gallons of the sparkling wine was sold last year, up 5 per cent on the previous 12 months.

But the increase was the smallest since 2011, amid a rising cost of imports from Italy and France because of the weak pound. The drink took off following the economic recession of 2008, when people opted for the previously less fashionable tipple over its more expensive rival, Champagne.

The firm also suggested that Prosecco may be suffering from brand overexposure through overstocking at supermarkets, where it is common for the drink to be on offer at under £10 per bottle.

James Simmonds of UHY Hacker Young said: “A 5 per cent increase in sales is not at all bad but that comes after several years of double-digit growth. Unless the industry can revitalise its image this year, we may now be reaching ‘peak Prosecco’. It is hard for a luxury product to make the leap into the mass market without losing its reputation for exclusivity.”

He added: “A lot of English wine producers are now vying to capture the space left, as Prosecco moves to the mainstream.”

According to a separate report from the International Wine and Spirit Research company, the UK is the biggest consumer of the drink, behind its native Italy. It is produced in nine regions of Italy.

Doug Bond, sales assistant at specialist wine shop the Bon Vivant’s Companion in Edinburgh, said Prosecco was still selling well.

He said: “It is still something we sell huge volumes of. It is probably not growing at the rate that it was, but it is still steady. I think it is the combination of the price point and the fact that it is an easy drinking sparking wine, very different to Champagne, which at the lower price point can often be aggressive and acidic.

“You need to spend around £30 a bottle to get a good Champagne and at that level, it is more complex and more interesting, but at a lower price, Prosecco is easier to drink.”

He added: “English sparkling wine is not dissimilar in price to most Champagne. It isn’t something that we’ve seen really take off yet.”

A consumer poll from the Wine and Spirits Trade Association last year found that 97 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds say that they drink Prosecco.