Reports are emerging that the latest casualty of the novel coronavirus pandemic is the champagne industry — which is suffering from losses even worse than those seen during the 1929 Great Depression.
According to Australian outlet ABC, champagne producers in France have claimed that they have lost around $2.8 billion after the demand for bubbly dropped by over a third. As a result, champagne-makers have estimated that around 100 million bottles will remain unsold by the end of the year.
Experts have blamed the pandemic’s strict lockdowns for the losses, as quarantine measures that have put a stop to weddings, parties, and other large gatherings that normally sustain the industry.
Even though alcohol sales, in general, have risen, champagne has stalled as many have likely considered the drink — a long symbol of celebration and excess — a less than appropriate beverage during a time of isolation, illness, and job losses.
To respond to the crisis, France’s Champagne Committee, known as CIVC, has begun implementing measures to protect the industry. Already, the group controls the harvest cap so as not to flood the market and cause prices to drop.
As a result of the pandemic, it is believed that the new limit will be a historic low. That would mean destroying excess grapes — which would be yet another cost for producers who are already suffering financially.
Another suggestion has been to sell the grapes to distilleries to help produce hand sanitizer, a product in high demand as the virus continues its spread in the United States and threatens a second wave in Europe.
“We are to destroy (the grapes) and we pay for them to be destroyed,” explained Anselme Selosse, of Jacques Selosse Champagnes. “It’s nothing but a catastrophe.”
“Champagne has never lived through anything like this before, even in the world wars,” Selosse added.
“It should not be forgotten that [champagne] has lived through every single war,” echoed Paul-Francois Vranken, founder of Vranken-Pommery Monopole.
“But with the other crises, there was a way out. For now, there is no way out — unless we find a vaccine,” he added.
Other champagne-makers are taking the time to reevaluate the future of champagne, and figure out new ways to adapt to the market — such as using “communal wine presses” to help strengthen small-scale vineyards.
Meanwhile, restaurant experts are expressing their own concerns about how the business will survive after the COVID-19 crisis. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, one top restauranteur believes that as many as 80 percent of all restaurants will close forever as a result of the lockdown.