The Champagne Mirror

12390037_sAccording to Spiros Malandrakis, Senior Alcoholic Drinks Analyst at Euromonitor International, “Champagne has historically not only provided a rather accurate mirror image of the prevailing macroeconomic environment, the category actually appeared to precede the boom and bust cycles – a fact making it the proverbial canary in the coalmine, raising the alarm before an upcoming downturn.”

So with 2012 Champagne sales down in France as well as in all the largest export markets – the United Kingdom, the United States – it comes as a bit of surprise to find out that the second largest projected growth market in terms of actual Champagne volume, coming in right after France, isn’t China or Brazil, or the United States. map_nigeria

It’s Nigeria.

Euromonitor predicts exports to Nigeria of up to 1.3 million bottles by 2017. While this remains a fraction of the 19.4 million bottles exported to the United States in the first three quarters of 2012, but nonetheless, Nigerian consumption in 2011 was valued at almost 8bn naira (US$ 47m) and is predicted to more than double by 2017.

It seems odd that in a country where over 60% of the population (160 million) live on less than US$1 per day and 40% don’t have ready access to fresh water, Champagne would be such an expanding market, but this has one simple explanation: Nigeria’s oil economy. There are vast oil reserves, and the wealth generated by oil sales accounts for the majority of the country’s government budgetary revenues, and almost all of its export earnings. The current government has undertaken a path of reform, aiming for a more mixed economy. After all, Nigeria used to be an agricultural exporter, but with the reliance on oil it has become a net importer of food. According to the World Bank, 80% of oil revenues benefit 1% of the population.

If Champagne sales are a reliable indicator, as they have been in the past, then Nigerians are in for a future of strong oil sales and popping corks. Or at least, some of them are.

Several articles stated that Nigerian hip-hop videos feature conspicuous consumption of Champagne, and I invite you to view this music ranking chart to check for yourself. Yes, many of the videos show Champagne, but that might be a factor of the hip-hop rather than the artists’ Nigerian origins. The video below isn’t particularly new and doesn’t have any Champagne bottles, but I thought it was catchy.

More:

Euromonitor blog post – Champagne: Nigerian Chic and European Doldrums

The Guardian article – Nigeria’s love of champagne takes sales growth to second highest in world by Afua Hirsch

The Nigerian Voice essay – Champagne Nigerian by Prince Charles Dickson